In case there is any doubt about whether you should be paid if you are an intern (or unpaid actor) being treated as a worker, three recent industrial tribunals have all separately weighed in with a resounding YES!:
1. Nicola Vetta and her work on “Coulda Woulda Shoulda” for London Dreams Motion Pictures
Taken on as an unpaid art department assistant, she and BECTU took London Dreams to court and won – thousands in back pay and holiday pay on top.
“This decision will give enormous comfort to industry workers, and in particular to new entrants, who face huge demands when they are starting out but who can often find themselves at risk of exploitation. The industry’s reliance on unpaid labour is giving film and television production a bad name. We hope that this judgement will draw a line in the sand and that we will see more employers complying with the law.” Martin Spence, BECTU
A landmark judgement, now quoted far and wide by commentators, legal websites and the Low Pay Commission – the first case against an exploitative film company and a message to all employers.
2. Keri Hudson, and the My Village website
They said they didn’t have to pay her because she was an intern, so she took them to court – and won over £1000 in wages and holiday pay.
“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”. NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff
3. Nick Thomas-Webster, working as an unpaid extra on “Jack Falls” for Press On Features
Hired on a “no fee” basis, he went to work – and then claimed his pay at a tribunal, and won.
“Production companies try to get away with it because extras are too afraid to speak out. I was told I would not work again [if I did] but I have. Stand up to them – they know they are in the wrong” he said.
All three unions now have a victory under their belt, all three judgements clearly and unequivocally backing their right to be paid the National Minimum Wage for their work.
And you can do it too – even if you are not a member of a union. It’s straightforward, it’s free and you can do it without any publicity or need for lawyers – if you want to claim the pay you should have received and don’t know how then feel free to PM or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I will guide you through the process (no charge!).