I am currently completing an unpaid internship at a fashion company. I have a contract for 6 months, however I was told this could be extended, and I am currently in my 5th month here. I am supposed to be paid in travel and lunch expenses however I have been having problems with the company, in that, for the past 2 months I haven't received my expenses, which obviously is making my, already difficult, living position even harder (as in I already don’t get paid, and now not receiving my expenses is causing me to live in my overdraft)
I have recently learnt that in the UK there is a law, and employment rights, that states an intern can be classed as a worker if they are promised future work, or I believe, are providing a service that isn’t done by anyone else at the company. I wasn’t promised future work, however I was told there is a very good chance of my getting hired at the end of my internship, which is why I have stayed for so long; and also I am currently, and have always been, the only person doing my job at the company - I am the only designer and my designs have been used to make the clothing and have then went on to be sold. And workers are entitled to at least minimum wage.
Is there anything I can do? I am currently looking for other jobs but so far I haven't been offered anything else, as I really can’t afford to carry on working for free. There isn’t a HR person at my company at the moment and the person I am in contact the most, my manager, is the director of the company, and therefore the one who I am kind of against. I have spoke to him on multiple occasions regarding me potentially be took on as a full time employee, and I have emailed and spoke to him regarding my expenses and I always just get told that he’ll pay them, but never does.
What can I do now? I have heard that I can open a work tribunal, or even contact Acas, but how do I do this? Is there anything I can say or do to my boss before I do this? Is there a way to write a formal letter of complaint to my company for example, saying that I know my employment rights and kind of saying that if he doesn't do anything abut it himself that I will go to a higher source of help, such as Acas? How could I word this?
So far they owe me over £200 in expenses and I believe I probably am owed 5 months worth of minimum wage. My question is: how can I approach my boss regarding my situation? I would like to write a formal letter but I need help on how to word it before I do anything else. I am looking for other jobs at the moment, but I would like advise on what I can do currently.