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Jamie Lawrence


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Unpaid intern who sued Sony settles for £4,600


An intern who worked for Sony has received a £4,600 settlement from the company after suing for unpaid wages.

Chris Jarvis, 25, worked from 9:30am until 6pm for three months at Sony’s Cambridge offices in 2012, making the 1.5 hour journey from his home in Milton Keynes twice a day.

Jarvis said that he thought he’d be shadowing a staff member, but was actually working as a tester for Sony’s 3D games artwork. The Times reported that he ‘politely informed’ his employers that his role entitled him to the national minimum wage.

He said: "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 HMRC and subsequently sued for unpaid wages. Prior to a scheduled tribunal, Sony settled for £4,600 – over £1,000 more than Jarvis’ original request. The Japanese company also requested that Jarvis sign a gagging order, which he declined.

Sony’s argument was that Jarvis was a volunteer and therefore didn’t need to be paid.

Jasmine Patel, who assisted Jarvis with his case, said:  “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."

One Response

  1. What a setback

    I've been trying to get a foot in the door by offering pro-bono for months now. There too goes apprenticeships. Indentured labour level of wages, but more purposeful than unemployment benefits.

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Jamie Lawrence

Insights Director

Read more from Jamie Lawrence

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