Unpaid Intern Sued Sony and Awarded £4,600
Chris Jarvis worked from 9:30 until 6pm for three months at Sony Computer Entertainment in Cambridge last year, commuting three hours a day from his home in Milton Keynes. According to Jarvis, he was suppose to work under a staff member but instead was given the job of testing the company’s games’ 3D artwork. According to The Times, Jarvis said he informed his employers that because of his work he was entitled to the national minimum wage:
I thought they would say they had made an honest mistake. If they got someone in to do the job it would have cost £100 a day. But they said that I was a volunteer so not entitled to any pay.
He reported Sony to HM Revenue and Customs and sued for unpaid wages but weeks before the tribunal, Sony settled for £4,600. The company asked him to sign a gagging order, which he declined. Sony argued that Jarvis was a volunteer so they were not required to pay him. However, Jasmine Patel, who helped him with his case stated:
If someone is working set hours … and is adding value to the company so that if they were not doing the task someone else would have to be paid to do it, then it is more likely they will be defined as a worker in law, entitled to be paid. Voluntary workers can only be employed unpaid by a charity, a voluntary organisation, an associated fund-raising body or a statutory body. You can be a volunteer worker at a commercial company, but you still qualify for the minimum wage.