Girish Gupta

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ABOUT

About Girish
CV [PDF]
E-Mail Girish
Email exchange with the Independent
Sept. 24, 2010 00:00 GMT

UPDATE: My interview with Malcolm Coles explaining this in more detail

The following email exchange details my correspondence with the Independent's Deputy Editor and General Counsel on the subject of payment for articles produced on work experience.

It begins with a hostile reception to my email from the paper's Deputy Editor Adam Leigh who refused to engage in any debate. After sending him an invoice for my time there, I was contacted by the paper's General Counsel who was prepared to engage in a short debate in which she mused (her word) that if I was right,"the fall out in the heart of the economy would be enormous, not least in the heart of Government where unpaid internships are part of the structure". I explained that this was the fault of the model used by business and government, not me!

The thrust of my argument is outlined in the final two paragraphs of an email to the paper's General Counsel:

"I am pursuing this because I believe it wrong that when at the Independent, I was doing the work of a journalist and producing content that was of commercial value to the newspaper.

"Whatever the law says about the situation, I find it morally unjustifiable that the Independent are not prepared to pay for work that it published and made money from. Legally, I believe I'm entitled to National Minimum Wage. Morally, I have always said that I believe a freelance rate for the work to be fair."


The reason I am targeting the
Independent rather than any of my other work experience placements is that it was, by far, the one at which I most did the job of a journalist, essentially filling in for a paid freelancer or staffer.

As I'm now graduated and achieving some success freelancing, I hope in doing this I am not narrowing my market too much. Clearly I won't have any bylines in the
Independent in the near future, which is a shame as it is a good quality paper and has devoted much coverage to Mexico--my destination in less than a month to continue freelancing from. I do, however, hope that other commissioning editors can see my reasons for doing this.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Girish Gupta
Date: 2 August 2010 16:35
Subject: The Work Experience Scam
To: __________ <______@independent.co.uk>


Hi _________,

Given the recent report by the IPPR and Internocracy on interns' pay
(http://www.ippr.org/pressreleases/?id=4081), I would like to request
payment for my work at the Independent in April.

I spent two weeks at the paper. In this time, much of my work was
published which is shown in its entirety at
http://www.girish-gupta.com/sec.php?id=independent.

I would like either current freelance rates for the work or at
minimum, the National Minimum Wage for my two weeks at the paper,
whichever is the greater to make up for the lack of offer of payment
at the time.

"Under the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 anyone doing work for an
organisation must be paid at least the minimum wage. This is
regardless of how a job was advertised, what the job title is or
whether there is a contract in place," says the IPPR.

I calculate the minimum wage equivalent to be (10 days * 8 hours *
£5.80) £464. The fact that I did work for the Independent, in the
legal sense, is demonstrated by the fact that my byline appears in the
paper a number of times.

I do not know your freelance rates so am not able to make the
calculation. You will see from my site that my work included many
page leads so I expect it to be a substantial amount.

If an amount can be agreed between us, I shall be happy to invoice the
Independent for it.

Please take a look at the IPPR/Internocracy report as well as my own
piece, the Work Experience Scam
(http://www.girish-gupta.com/article.php?id=145), for more on the
topic.

Thanks

Girish
...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I received a phone call a little while later that day from the Independent's Deputy Editor Adam Leigh. I was impressed that someone so high-ranking had seen fit to deal with it but was disappointed when all he did was shout at me, asking what possible right I had to do this and so on. I asked to have my say, telling him that I did have counter-arguments but he explicitly told me that I couldn't and carried on before putting the phone down.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Girish Gupta
Date: 2 August 2010 17:44
Subject: The Work Experience Scam
To: Adam Leigh <______@independent.co.uk>

Hi Adam,

Thanks for your phone call a minute ago. I am hugely disappointed
that you did not allow me to give my own arguments, putting the phone
down after you had made your own. I do have counter-arguments to
yours and would genuinely be keen to hear your thoughts on them. A
discussion on the issue would benefit both parties.

You mentioned that you would be happy to be quoted. If you are not
prepared to have a discussion with me, then if you would like to email
me with a response to my Work Experience Scam article
http://www.girish-gupta.com/article.php?id=145, I would be happy to
publish it.

I believe this is only fair.

Girish
...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Adam Leigh <______@independent.co.uk>
Date: 2 August 2010 18:10
Subject: The Work Experience Scam
To: Girish Gupta

The situation is as follows:

Last October, we offered you two weeks' unpaid work experience. You accepted our offer of unpaid work experience.

...

Now, more than three months later, you are demanding payment. Since there is no basis on which to do so, I must conclude that you are particularly idiotic.

You have taken up enough of our time.

Kindly refrain from contacting us again.

------------------------------
Adam Leigh
Deputy Editor
The Independent
...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Girish Gupta
Date: 2 August 2010 18:13
Subject: The Work Experience Scam
To: Adam Leigh <______@independent.co.uk>

...

No basis for me to do so? The law seems very much in my favour. Unpaid, underlined, is completely true in what I signed up for, as you say. However, the law says that the contract is irrelevant.

Girish

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Girish Gupta
Date: 3 August 2010 17:05
Subject: The Work Experience Scam
To: Adam Leigh <______@independent.co.uk>

Adam, I'm not sure what you hoped to achieve by calling me up to shout at me before putting the phone down when I asked to have my say yesterday.

Your follow-up email was also surprisingly rude and failed to take into account any counter-argument, not that I'd had a chance to make one.

I would have loved to engage in a discussion with you about what is a very hot topic. However, this does not look like it will happen so I shall not go into my thoughts here.

I have attached an invoice for £417.60, the amount owed according to the National Minimum Wage Act 1998 for nine eight-hour days. If this is not paid within fourteen days, I shall refer the matter to HM Revenue & Customs.

This is on the advice of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' Pay and Work Rights Helpline (http://payandworkrightscampaign.direct.gov.uk/index.html) who I spoke to on two separate occasions today in order to clarify and confirm the situation.

I would just like to reiterate one point: you keep insisting that I agreed to unpaid work experience. This is irrelevant. If it was not built into the law that someone's own rights could not be waivered by a contract, then exploitation would be rife as anyone desperate for money would be happy to sign a contract willing to work for much less than the minimum wage as it is better than nothing, in much the same way as any young journalist wanting a stint at a newspaper is happy to waiver his/her rights for money.

Please do not ring me up to shout at me again. It does nothing to further the situation. In fact, based on yesterday's behaviour, I expect no further telephone communication from the Independent.

I appreciate that your position within the industry dwarfs mine, however, that is no reason to show a lack of respect when speaking to a fellow journalist.

Regards,

Girish

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: _____________ <______@independent.co.uk>
Date: 3 August 2010 17:31
Subject: (no subject)
To: Girish Gupta

Dear Mr Gupta

I have been shown your email exchanges with editorial staff here and informed about various telephone conversations that have taken place between you and them.

Please could you note that any further communication you may wish to have with The Independent should be with me on behalf of my client, by email addressed solely to me.

Yours sincerely,

____________
General Counsel
The Independent, the Independent on Sunday, www.independent.co.uk

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Girish Gupta
Date: 3 August 2010 17:46
Subject: RE: (no subject)
To: ___________ <______@independent.co.uk>

Dear _____,

Thank you for your email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Regrads,

Girish
...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Girish Gupta
Date: 16 August 2010 16:18
Subject: RE: (no subject)
To: ___________ <______@independent.co.uk>

Dear _______,

As my invoice remains unpaid after 14 days and I have heard nothing
from the Independent, I shall be passing the matter onto the
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills as I mentioned in my
previous email.

Regards,

Girish

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: _____________ <______@independent.co.uk>
Date: 26 August 2010 14:50
Subject: Work Experience
To: Girish Gupta

Dear Mr Gupta

As this email exchange makes absolutely clear, you were seeking work experience and that was the much competed for opportunity that was given to you. _________ told you at the outset that it would be "unpaid", and this was the basis on which the arrangements were finalised and you eventually came into The Independent to take up this offer.

It is incomprehensible why you are pursuing this completely unfounded complaint. I trust that you will now accept what we say and that we do not hear further from you on this matter.

Yours sincerely,


_______
General Counsel
The Independent, the Independent on Sunday, www.independent.co.uk

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Girish Gupta
Date: 26 August 2010 14:58
Subject: Re: Work Experience
To: ___________ <______@independent.co.uk>

Dear _____,

As I have stated in my previous emails, I have contacted the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills' Pay and Work Rights Helpline (http://payandworkrightscampaign.direct.gov.uk/index.html) and they are dealing with the matter. They have advised that HMRC will decide whether to pursue a case in the coming weeks.

Again, as I have stated, on separate occasions, the helpline agreed with me that legally I am in the right regardless of any contract signed. I have stated this explicitly in my emails to the Independent though this, very important, point seems to have been ignored.

That hopefully makes it more comprehensible to the Independent why I am pursuing this matter.

Regards,

Girish
...

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: _____________ <______@independent.co.uk>
Date: 26 August 2010 15:07
Subject: Work Experience
To: Girish Gupta

Dear Mr Gupta

You are of course welcome to address a complaint to BIS and no doubt you will give them my contact details should anyone there be interested in pursuing the matter to the point of needing to contact us.
I do not believe that any forum in the country would rule that if you agreed to take up an unpaid work experience place at The Independent we should be liable to you or to HMRC. Apart from all the legal reasons why that would be wrong, it is interesting to muse that should there such a decision to the contrary the fall out in the heart of the economy would be enormous, not least in the heart of Government where unpaid internships are part of the structure.

Yours,

_________
General Counsel
The Independent, the Independent on Sunday, www.independent.co.uk

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

From: Girish Gupta
Date: 26 August 2010 15:10
Subject: Re: Work Experience
To: ___________ <______@independent.co.uk>

Dear ______,

I spoke to BIS on Monday and gave them Adam Leigh's contact details as I had not received a reply of my email last Wednesday to you. I'm sure he will pass them onto you.

Please read my emails to Adam as these give good argument as to why it is necessary not to be able to waiver your right to National Minimum Wage.

The fallout at the heart of government and economy may be enormous but that is entirely the fault of government and those involved in the economy for not adhering to the law and the moral priniciple that someone should be paid for work they produce.

I am pursuing this because I believe it wrong that when at the Independent, I was doing the work of a journalist and producing content that was of commercial value to the newspaper.

Whatever the law says about the situation, I find it morally unjustifiable that the Independent are not prepared to pay for work that it published and made money from. Legally, I believe I'm entitled to National Minimum Wage. Morally, I have always said that I believe a freelance rate for the work to be fair. This is something I stated in my first email to ______.


Regards,

Girish




More...

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Nov. 01, 2013 00:00 GMT


About Girish
00. 00, 2013 00:00 GMT


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Oct. 12, 2011 07:07 GMT


Campaign of terror in El Prado
May. 19, 2011 05:46 GMT


At the gates of Glencore’s La Jagua mine
May. 19, 2011 04:59 GMT


El Día del Trabajador, 2011
May. 02, 2011 01:15 GMT


Jon Slattery: BBC interviews Gupta on work experience at Indy
Feb. 03, 2011 00:00 GMT


Harlan Ellison - Pay the Writer
Jan. 18, 2011 17:56 GMT


Private Eye: Internshits
Dec. 10, 2010 00:00 GMT


Jon Slattery: More on the workie who challenged the Independent: Is he a Clark Kent or David Brent?
Nov. 25, 2010 16:00 GMT


Malcolm Coles: Invoicing Independent intern interviewed over internet. Interesting insights.
Nov. 25, 2010 12:00 GMT


Jon Slattery: What happened when a workie sent the Indy a bill
Nov. 25, 2010 00:00 GMT


Jay Kay's KO for Lady GaGa
Nov. 04, 2010 00:00 GMT


Email exchange with the Independent
Sept. 24, 2010 00:00 GMT


Meeting South Bank's Entertainers
Sept. 10, 2010 12:00 GMT








© Girish Gupta