Two of the four brands caught advertising for unpaid interns to work on their company’s magazine have issued statements explaining their position.


“At Superdrug we take the safety and wellbeing of our colleagues very seriously and would like to confirm that we do not employ unpaid interns in any of our stores or at our head office. We work with a number of agencies who may have people on work experience in their office working on their projects. We have asked them to clarify the status of all such individuals.”


Hi Tanya,

Thank you for your email and for bringing this to our attention. As you know already Weight Watchers magazine is run by River Publishing, therefore they will be coming back to you with a response in due course as it is an issue relating to them directly that you are questioning.

I have copied in Mary Frances, the editor of Weight Watchers magazine over at River Publishing. She is fully aware of your enquiry and will be in touch with you.

Kind Regards,

Alison Cotton
PR Manager
Weight Watchers UK Ltd

I am pleased that these companies have provided a response to what is a very serious complaint. It’s more than Sainsbury’s and Morrisons have provided so far (what is wrong with these supermarkets?).

However, looking at these emails next to the one that I sent to them, I can’t help feeling that they have left a number of serious questions completely unanswered. More specifically, that number is four – because that is the number of questions I asked:

1) What is Weight Watchers’ / Superdrug’s policy on using unpaid interns throughout your business? Are you aware of the law that anybody deemed to be a ‘worker’ (rather than a true ‘volunteer’) must be paid at least the minimum wage, regardless of whether they are willing to work unpaid?

2) Was Weight Watchers / Superdrug aware of the ad, before I brought it to your attention? If you were unaware of it, is this something you will be speaking to your contract publisher River [both Weight Watchers and Superdrug are with River Publishing] about? Whose responsibility do you feel this is? Although I suspect River posted this ad without consulting you, could they argue that your contract with them is not sufficient to cover their staffing costs to run Weight Watchers / Superdrug magazine? Since the magazine (and the ad) both carry the Weight Watchers / Superdrug brand, so I assume you feel you have some responsibility for this?

3) Now that you have been made aware of this ad, will you be removing it? Will this internship be scrapped – or will you still be recruiting for this role but as a paid position?

4) Graduate Fog’s users feel that the big companies like Weight Watchers / Superdrug should be taking the lead on this issue and setting a good example. Too many companies are taking advantage of young people’s desperation to find work and gain experience as a way of cutting their own staff costs. What steps will you take to ensure that Weight Watchers / Superdrug – and none of your suppliers – will use unpaid interns in the future?

What do you reckon? Do you believe these companies are taking this story seriously? Or are we being fobbed off?

(I’ve heard nothing from River by the way – and both statements arrived around 6pm last night…)

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