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NUJ wins first victory for intern

12 May 2011

The NUJ has warned media employers to 'pay interns or face the consequences' after union member Keri Hudson successfully sued TPG Web Publishing Ltd over her unpaid internship.

Keri Hudson, 21, was successful at a Central London employment tribunal today in proving she had a right to be paid for work carried out over several weeks at the My Village Website in late 2010.

The tribunal heard that, despite the fact she worked each day from 10am to 6pm and had been personally responsible for and in charge of a team of writers, for training and delegating tasks, collecting briefs, scheduling articles and even for hiring new interns, the company had told her she was not eligible for any pay because they considered her an intern.

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.

With the support of the NUJ and Thompsons lawyer Richard Williams, she took today's proceedings.

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.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary 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."

Roy Mincoff, NUJ legal officer, said:

"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."

The NUJ has appealed to other interns who believe they should have been paid to contact the union at legal@nuj.org.uk.

NUJ work experience guidance.

Tags: interns, new media, TPG Web Publishing, tribunal, minimum wage