The National Union of Journalists is claiming a first victory in its ‘cashback for interns’ campaign.
The union announced this afternoon that former intern Keri Hudson has been awarded £1024.98 in damages – £913.22 in national minimum wage back pay and £111.76 in holiday pay – from TPG Web Publishing at an employment tribunal in central London.
The tribunal found Hudson had a right to be paid for intern work she carried out over two months at TPG’s My Village website last year.
Hudson worked at the website from 10am-6pm and was personally responsible for a team of writers, the NUJ claims.
A statement released by the union said she also carried out ‘training and delegating tasks, collecting briefs, scheduling articles and even hiring new interns”, and that ‘the company had told her she was not eligible for any pay because they considered her an intern”.
It continued: ‘In her evidence Keri Hudson said she had been asked when the site was taken over by TPG Web Publishing Ltd if she would stay on and work for the new company.
‘She was assured her pay would be fixed. After five more weeks she was informed she would not now be receiving a payment for the work she carried out – she resigned and took out a grievance.
‘The tribunal found she was a worker in law even though she didn’t have a written contract and was therefore entitled to be paid at least the National Minimum Wage and holiday pay.’
The NUJ has now warned media employers to ‘pay interns or face the consequences”.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: ‘Today’s judgement sends a clear warning to all employers to pay their interns, abide by the law or face the consequences.
‘It is unacceptable that full-time staff are being sacked while unpaid interns are being exploited. This is the first case of its kind – if employers continue to break the law it will not be the last.”
NUJ legal officer Roy Mincoff added: “This sends a clear message to media companies that if they treat interns like cheap labour, the NUJ will take you through the courts.
‘If in reality interns are workers, they are entitled to National Minimum Wage and holiday pay and NUJ will fight for these rights to be enforced”.
Hudson was supported in her legal battle by the NUJ and Thompsons lawyer Richard Williams.
TPG Web Publishing was unavailable for comment.