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British Unpaid Interns May Have Recourse

Judgement rules unpaid intern deserves cash
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British unpaid interns rejoice, the U.K. may now recognize you as a paid worker. Keri Hudson, a 21-year-old former intern at online review site My Village, is one of the first interns in the U.K. to win the right to back pay after her former employer failed to follow through with training and other stipulations that would warrant her working for free.

The National Union of Journalists helped Hudson through its Cashback for Interns campaign, which successfully garnered $1,600 of compensation for the five weeks she had worked for the company. In Hudson’s case, an oral agreement was sufficient enough evidence for a tribunal to judge her as a worker. The NUJ is hoping the victory acts as a warning to other employers who may be using interns more like unpaid employees rather than trainees.

The movement to compensate interns who often do the tasks of entry-level employees started in earnest in the United States last year, widely publicized by a New York Times article. In the U.K., youth unemployment stands at 20 percent, making the demographic an easy target desperate for a break. TPG web publishing, the owner of My Village, denies any sort of complicity in taking advantage of the young, eager, and unemployed, and plans on appealing the tribunal judgment against them.