Tech intern asked for minimum wage after being told his travel expenses reimbursement was delayed
Sony has paid £4,600 to a graduate intern after he decided to seek compensation following his expenses being delayed.
Chris Jarvis, 25, started his internship with the game and tech giant in Cambridge last year after the offer was the only response he got from numerous job applications.
He expected only to be remunerated for his travel expenses – a daily four-hour round trip from his home in Milton Keynes which cost him £20 a day in fuel.
But when Mr Jarvis, a graduate of Norfolk University’s game art and design course, then found those payments to be ‘delayed’, he told Sony he believed he qualified as a worker and should be paid minimum wage.
He said he worked 9.30am to 6pm in his first month then from 10.30am to 6pm during his second two months, but said Sony told him he did not qualify as a worker and ‘did not have to be there’.
But while he had expected to shadow someone during his time at the company, he found himself testing 3D artwork for games.
He told the Daily Mail: "I was basically clicking buttons to make sure the pictures that had come in from China were working. It’s normally part of the environment artist’s job – but it’s time-consuming and boring work."
Jasmine Patel at Leigh Day solicitors, who helped Mr Jarvis with his case, said that in law if somebody is working set hours and adding value to the company, then they were more likely to be seen as a worker and entitled to payment.
She said: "He was fully integrated into the team and doing work that was very important to the development of the computer game. He was working, not just shadowing other people."
She hopes the payout would help make other firms realise what interns are entitled to.
"We’ve created more awareness of this in that it should hopefully help companies to know when they should and shouldn’t be paying their interns," she added. "HMRC is really cracking down on internships and companies that don’t pay their interns."
Sony settled before the case could go to court. The firm has declined to comment.