Sony Computing Entertainment has paid out £4,463 to a former intern after he claimed that he should be entitled to the national minimum wage for the work he had undertaken.
Chris Jarvis, a video games art and design graduate, interned for Sony Computer Entertainment Group between 17 September and 7 December 2012.
He said: “I worked from 9.30am until 6pm for the first month, and then from 10.30am until 6pm after that. There was also up to a three-hour 40-minute [long] commute each day.”
During his time with the organsiation, rather than learning from or shadowing another employee, Jarvis said he integrated and edited 3D models for video games. In his view, he was fulfilling a role that would otherwise have been paid.
According to Jarvis, he told Sony Computing Entertainment he thought he was entitled to the national minimum wage (NMW) of £6.19 per hour for his work, but the organisation argued that he was a volunteer who was not entitled to the pay.
After contacting the campaign group Intern Aware, Jarvis reported Sony to HM Revenue and Customs and took legal action against the electronics firm.
Jasmine Patel, an associate solicitor in the employment and discrimination department at law firm Leigh Day, which represented Jarvis, said: “We argued that [Jarvis] was an employee, which is actually harder than arguing that he was a worker, but we considered that he would have met that higher test.
“If you are offering longer internships, ones that last a substantial period of time, it’s more likely that the intern is going to be considered a worker.
“Also, where employers are training interns, which will enable the intern to perform a role, that could possibly highlight that the person is a worker and not an intern.”
According to Patel, the payment comprised: unpaid wages based on Jarvis working for 60 days doing either eight or eight-and-a-half hour-long days; six days accrued annual leave and one week notice pay. She added that Jarvis also received compensation of four weeks’ pay from Sony for failing to provide his with written particulars of employment (in contravention of section one of the Employment Rights Act 1996).
Gus Baker, co-founder of Intern Aware, added: “We’re pleased to be able to support interns, and are confident there will be more cases like this in the future.”
A spokesperson for Sony said: “We’re not making any further comment on the matter.”