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Jamie Lawrence

Wagestream

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Death of bank intern raises concern over working hours

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A 21 year old intern working at Bank of America in London was found dead after reportedly working 72 hours in a row.

Moritz Erhardt, an exchange student from Germany, was found collapsed in his shower following several days of working until 6am. He is said to have suffered from epilepsy and was pronounced dead at the scene.

John McIvor, a spokesman for Bank of America, said: “Our first thoughts are with his family, and we send our condolences to them at this difficult time.” He added that interns at the bank are assigned a manager, mentor, buddy, staffing officer and HR contact as potential sources of support.

Erhardt’s death is likely to reignite criticism of internships, which have had a rocky ride over the last year (particularly unpaid internships. Interns at Bank of America are paid circa £45,000 a year).

One of the most common is that a lack of jobs for young people has funnelled younger job seekers into the internship system, where employers can exploit the situation in order to raise productivity to artificial levels. With more intern positions than permanent jobs available, interns must go the extra mile in order to get ahead.

A former investment banker told The Independent that interns regularly worked 14 hour days.

“Interns can regularly clock up to 100 or even 110 hours a week, but  people are fully aware that banking is hard work and the company constantly reminds you to manage upwards in order to not overheat. This is the first time I’ve heard of something like this happening and banking is a very close culture.”

In 2011, a 20-year-old banking intern told the Evening Standard that “you work whatever hours you’re asked to.”

He also drew attention to a harrowing method of maintaining productivity: “Every intern’s worst nightmare is what’s called ‘the Magic Roundabout’ – which is when you get a taxi to drive you home at 7am and then it waits for you while you shower and change and then takes you back to the office.”

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence
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