‘I won’t work for free’: the in­terns who fought back

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - FRONT PAGE -

Grad­u­ates (and their par­ents) face grow­ing costs in the early years of work. Some are turn­ing to the courts, says Sam Mead­ows

Grad­u­ate debt is ris­ing sharply. Wages are fall­ing. And the pro­por­tion of grad­u­ates in “non­grad­u­ate” te jobs is creep­ing to­wards one e in two. In­tern­ships – very of­ten sub­sidised by par­ents s who give their off­spring cash or pay for ac­com­mo­da­tion – are e now a stan­dard route into the he work­place. The num­ber of­fered by ma­jor grad­u­ate em­ploy­ers has grown by 50pc since 2010. And, says the In­sti­tute e for Public Pol­icy Re­search, al­most half f of those em­ploy­ers state that with­out that at experience grad­u­ate ap­pli­cants have lit­tle to no hope of se­cur­ing an ac­tual job. But now there is ev­i­dence of a fightback. Grad­u­ates are find­ing that it is pos­si­ble to claim ba back thou­sands of pounds in un­paid unpa wages for in­tern­ships t they car­ried out as long as six years ago – even if they sign signed a con­tract agree­ing to work for free. Chris Jarvis, for ex­am­ple, suc­cess­fully claimed £4,600 from Sony, the them multi­na­tional tech­nol­ogy techn and en­ter­tain­ment ente gi­ant, gian af­ter work­ing wo un­paid for three months. m Un­paid in­tern­ships in are ar il­le­gal in Frus­trated about the ex­ploita­tion of young work­ers, Asher Dres­ner and Jenny Imhoff set up How­box to of­fer ad­vice on work­ers’ rights. Mr Dres­ner said that, in al­most all cases, an em­ployer should pay you for an in­tern­ship.

“The de­fault po­si­tion is that if you aren’t get­ting paid then that’s wrong. Some peo­ple think it’s OK for in­tern­ships to be un­paid. It isn’t,” he said.

There are a hand­ful of ex­cep­tions, but in most cases you will be en­ti­tled to at least the na­tional min­i­mum wage – cur­rently £7.05 an hour for 21-24-year-olds and £7.50 above that. The rates will in­crease to £7.38 and £7.83 an hour in April.

If some­one is un­der 16, work­ing for a char­ity and get­ting paid ex­penses, or the worker is a student and the work is part of their course, un­paid work is le­gal.

Harder to judge is a lit­tle-known rule that means em­ploy­ers can also ask you to work for free if it “doesn’t con­trol your work or ben­e­fit from it”. Mr Dres­ner said this sit­u­a­tion was very rare, as in al­most all cases the em­ployer would exert some form of con­trol over the work.

Chris Jarvis claimed back £4,600 in wages

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