A game development intern working for Sony in Cambridge has been paid £4,600 after claiming he should have earned the minimum wage during his three month internship.
Chris Jarvis, who graduated from Norfolk University in game and art design, nabbed an internship at the company on a three month deal, working on environment art in the outsourcing team.
Speaking to Develop, Jarvis said he knew he would not be getting paid, but had agreed to receive £20 in fuel expenses everyday for his commute from Milton Keynes to Cambridge.
The intern worked 9:30 until 6pm during the first month, and 10:30am until 6pm the following two months.
After receiving his expenses for the first month, Jarvis said there was a delay on his second round of expenses, with Sony's HR department unable to provide him a satisfactory reason for the delay. After complaining, the expenses were eventually paid once receipts were received.
But after the first delay, Jarvis researched his rights and claimed he was owed at least the minimum wage for his role at the company.
“It was only until the second payment was delayed that I decided to research what my rights were,” Jarvis told Develop.
“At the same time as well not all the interns had the same opportunities. We weren't getting to do the same jobs. Some interns were working in the environment team and others weren't, so I was researching what my rights were.
“And that's when I found out I fell into the bracket of a worker."
After taking legal action over his rights, Jarvis received £4,600 from Sony before an employment tribunal.
Jarvis said he hoped that his experience would show other interns in a similar position what their rights were in such a situation.
“The whole point that I did this process of going through the employment tribunal was to help people in my situation with their rights,” he said.
“Because I wasn't able to raise a grievance, I didn't have any rights. There was no procedure legally that I could go down because I didn't fall under the bracket of an employee, so Sony had no obligation to raise a grievance for me and investigate why I didn't get paid my fuel expenses, and they didn't have to investigate my grievances with equal opportunities amongst people in the internships.
“An employee has those rights, they can raise a grievance about anything, even if it's not illegal, and the company has to investigate it.”
Jarvis was however keen to point out that internships were still a fantastic opportunity for students to gain valuable skills and experiences.
He said however it was important for companies and universities to be more aware of the law when it came to offering such schemes and the minimum wage.
“I think internships are great,” he said.
“They are a fantastic opportunity for students who are still in full time education and still have their overdraft and their loan they can live off. And they can gain loads of valuable skills and experiences.
“If I was work shadowing and just observing what was happening, I wouldn't have to get paid because I wasn't benefiting the company in any way. I do think they're a fantastic opportunity. But I think that companies and universities need to be more aware of the law and when to implement internships and when to give minimum wage.”
Sony has declined to comment on the matter.