JOIN ‘JUSTICE FOR INTERNS’, OUR NEW CAMPAIGN
Have you interned for a well-known brand, celebrity or a high-profile MP? Then we want to hear from you!
Graduate Fog and Intern Aware today launch Justice for Interns. This historic campaign will see the big name employers who use unpaid interns taken to court and forced to admit that what they’ve been doing is unethical, unfair — and illegal. This will ensure that in future all interns are paid a fair wage for their work.
After more than two years of campaigning on a practice which takes advantage of hundreds of thousands of desperate graduates ever year — while excluding many more, who can’t afford to work for free — we’ve run out of patience. The intern ‘debate’ is over. The law is clear — almost all unpaid internships are illegal.
We’ve complained to the officials. We’ve got acres of press coverage. We’ve even asked politicians for help. Yet nothing has changed. Adverts for these illegal jobs are still everywhere. All the big job boards promote them — as do your universities. Big brands, celebrities — even our own politicians — continue to brazenly flout the law.
Why? Because they don’t think you’re brave enough to stand up to them.
“Get an intern” has become an acceptable order from cheap-arse bosses seeking free labour from anyone desperate enough to believe it is valuable ‘experience’ and may lead to paid work in the future. But — as many of you have discovered — it usually doesn’t. Instead, all it leads to is another unpaid internship.
And it makes our blood boil. In the UK, we have a minimum wage law which states clearly that employers cannot have someone working for them paid less than the minimum wage (currently £6.08 for over 21s) — even if you say you’re willing to work for free.
Calling that person an ‘intern’ is red herring. This is really about unpaid labour, plain and simple. That these jobs are done by young people at the start of their careers is irrelevant. Whatever your age, every citizen is entitled to be protected by the law.
We’re lucky to have secured pro bono access to an experienced employment law barrister. He has agreed to help us – and you – fight these cases all the way, and he won’t charge a penny for his time.
Will we win? Quite simply, yes. Two cases have already been brought by interns who took their employers to court. Both won — and were awarded back pay. Unfortunately, the employers were small companies — so these victories didn’t cause much of a stir. But can you imagine if we repeated those successes, but this time with, say, a big designer brand, high-profile celebrity — or a member of the current government? A win like that would be an instant game-changer.
But we can’t do it without you. As passionate as Graduate Fog and Intern Aware are about this issue, we can’t take these employers to court, as we are merely ‘third parties’. It has to come from you, the interns. Which is why we need you to contact us if:
You have interned unpaid (or expenses only) for a big brand, celebrity, MP or other high profile individual within the last six years
You are currently interning unpaid (or expenses only) for a big brand, celebrity, MP or other high profile individual.
In the next couple of months, we will be assembling a group of the strongest cases we hear from (we already have some corkers). You’ll meet each other, and we’ll all do this together.
We know that coming forward is a big ask. But you don’t need you to take legal action until you’re feeling brave enough. If you give us your details now, you can take action at a later date, once you have a job and feel more secure. Perhaps by then you’ll be working in a different industry — and won’t give a stuff what your former employer thinks. If you’re even considering doing any of this, just drop us a line — in total confidence of course — and we’ll send you more information.
So, if you’ve worked for a high profile employer, please get in touch. If you haven’t, we still need you to do your bit for Justice for Interns by helping us spread the word about the campaign. Every time you see an update on Twitter, please retweet it. Like us on Facebook, talk about us in the pub – and tell everyone you know about what we’re doing. Thank you!