Celebrity magazine NOW is among the businesses which shelled out following a petition by former interns to be paid the minimum wage.
Last year, government lawyers warned ministers that a number of employers were breaking national minimum wage rules by not paying interns, saying that "most interns are likely to be workers and therefore entitled to the NMW".
A 27-year-old graduate of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, who wanted to be known by her middle name Anita, fell victim to one of these employers – popular celebrity magazine NOW.
In addition to working unpaid, Anita spent most of her time “packing and unpacking clothes” in a stockroom with another intern – and didn’t even get to meet management until a week into the internship.
“It wasn't what I signed up to do… Generally you weren't treated very well,” she said.
Anita then undertook a six-month unpaid internship at a south London auction house, which consisted mainly of cleaning and vacuuming the office and cataloguing items that were being put up for sale.
But after working on an unpaid basis for five months, the company neglected to inform her of an opening and offered a paid job to an outsider.
“They basically led me on to believe that when a place became available I would be offered the job … if I stayed on and worked hard and impressed them I would up for the position.
“I felt a bit stupid. Even though I was working there, I had to work [unpaid] alongside someone who'd just joined.”
It was only after the Justice for Interns campaign jumped onto her cause that the companies coughed up – and in spite of the petition, the auction house only shelled out a sixth of Anita’s minimum wage claim.
The magazine’s publisher, IPC Media, said: “The individual undertook what had been understood by both parties to be unpaid work experience, but, during that time, it appears that she progressed to carrying out tasks for which she was entitled to be paid.
“Once this was brought to our attention, the payment was made through IPC's payroll.”
Are you looking for graduate internships rather than jobs? How long would you be willing to work unpaid?