At an unpaid internship at a designer label

I was…

>> forced to work over 8 hours a day – sometimes over 10 hours a day (they made me sign a contract in which I had to agree with this)

>> given no payment, no meals, no accommodation, no transport money

>> forced to be available to work on public holidays and week-ends

>> given hard physical, mindless or non-educational work(such as tidying-up)

>>  not given proper training

>> advised by the supervisor not  to ask any questions related to their work as it disturbs them and makes me too nosey

>> not (in the least) to expect a job offer

>> to treat my employer with great kindness and gratitude

>> not even thanked for my work after working at least 480 hours for a profit making company

>> sent on dozens of errands lasting almost all day – even when it was pouring with rain at 10 degrees – with two 20kg heavy suitcases to pull

>> given a letter of recommendation that did not mention the tasks that I HAVE done, but those that I have NOT done(the tasks that were not offered to me in the first place)

>> given a letter of recommendation that makes it look like I have refused to do tasks given to me(which is not the case, since they were just not given to me) and underlines knowledge that I lack, rather that my skills and capabilities

>> after spending hard labour and at least over £1200(money for accommodation, transport and food) on this 3 month internship, giving the company valuable material to make profit on, I was given nothing to help further my career

Generally at this company:

>> when sick, interns still come to work and take painkillers as not to attract attention

>> many interns keep quiet about bad treatment and many hours of no sleep as not to ruin their career

>> the interns have no one to legally support them when they are not even given a decent letter of recommendation

The small UK company is a high fashion label of the fashion industry that “employs” about 15 interns per year. Its owner has only one permanent employee.

This is not only about no wages, but about bad immoral treatment, modern day slavery. I was treated with no respect and it made me feel worthless, even though I know they have gained so much from the work I have done for them. Is this humane? Is this legal?

We need to put an end to this! Please monitor internships and set-up a representative that fights for or rights and black lists such companies!

Also graduates suffer – they don’t find any paid jobs because of all the free labour…

To whoever sent this email in – do get in touch (as anonymously as you like) as we’d like to help you out


23 Responses to “At an unpaid internship at a designer label”

  1. 1 Anne 06/14/2012 at 12:49 pm

    First, you should report them to HMRC – they are investigating the fashion industry and this is illegal. You can do so anonymously.
    Second, you should tot up how much you worked and issue a claim against them for the equivalent of the minimum age. You will win, as you are entitled to at least the minimum wage for the work you did. Too may businesses are exploiting young people who are desperate to get into the industry when what they are doing is illegal (see my paragraph above).

  2. 2 Emily 06/14/2012 at 2:45 pm

    I absolutely believe that you have the right to stand up for youself (see Anne). Your silence on this subject is a quiescence, which will not be helpful to anyone, including yourself (let’s face it – even you said there will be no job at the end of this tunnel).

    But if you stand up for yourself as Anne suggested, you will encourage many other young people who are also, or will be, trapped in this situation.

    In the beginning of ANYTHING it takes only a few people to get the ball rolling and you have nothing to lose. You’ve gotten past the first hurdle already, the first stumbing block for abuse victims, realizing that they have suffered an injustice. This is the most difficult part.

  3. 3 Mark 06/16/2012 at 7:08 am

    If you made a successful Minimum Wage claim you would receive something in the region of £3,000 in wages that are rightly yours. Claiming is very straightforward, if you would like any help to do so then please feel free to email me ( and I will happily tell you everything you need to know.

  4. 4 Thea 09/23/2012 at 2:24 pm

    This sounds a very similar story to that of my son’s girlfriend who has just left an internship with Reem Al Asadi. Having no prior knowledge of the fashion industry I find it unbelievable that young people are expected to work for nothing and be grateful! I would be interested to know whether minimum wage claims have been succesful?

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