Morrisons magazineCONFUSED EMAIL INSISTS ILLEGAL ROLE WAS OFFERED “WITH THE BEST INTENTION”

Morrisons has finally responded to my query about their ad for an intern to work on their magazine for ‘approx 4 weeks’, being paid travel expenses only.

Unfortunately, it’s written in a language called ‘PR guff’, which I’m afraid I don’t speak.

Can you help me translate it into English?

Here’s a reminder of the original ad…

(posted on Gorkana by their contract publisher – Result Customer Communications – on 1 July 2010):

Morrisons magazine, Intern

Morrisons magazine are seeking an editorial intern to assist on a health and beauty project and the main magazine. Tasks will include organising samples, contacting PRs and readers and general magazine admin.

Please note that this is an administration based role not feature writing. Superb organisation skills are a must and some magazine experience is preferable.

The candidate will need to be available immediately for approx 4 weeks. Offices are based near Liverpool Street and travel expenses will be paid. Working hours: 9-5.30.

Okay, now concentrate. Here comes Morrisons’ response….

“A Morrisons spokesperson said:

“We have spoken to our publishing company and appreciate that this was intended as a work experience placement and not advertised as an employed role.

“We believe the role was offered by our publishing company with the best intention of providing a valuable work experience opportunity.

“We will continue to monitor the type of placements offered by our suppliers to ensure they are fair and transparent to all involved.”

See what I mean??

Let’s take it bit by bit:

“We have spoken to our publishing company and appreciate that this was intended as a work experience placement and not advertised as an employed role.”

Eh? What you do mean you ‘appreciate’ this? Are you saying that your publishing company messed up in placing this ad – or running the unpaid placement at all? Or that I’m being stupid in thinking that this ad amounts to a proper role, when it is in fact – according to you – merely a ‘work experience placement’? If it’s the latter, then you might like to know that actually, the law states that is isn’t what you call it that matters. Whether you advertise for an ‘intern,’ ‘work experience candidate’ or a ‘slave’ makes no odds. The role that you have just described – with set hours and responsibilities – is highly likely to be legally classed as that of a ‘worker.’ Which means that person must be paid the minimum wage. They don’t have the right to waive it, and you could be prosecuted for failing to pay them. End of.

“We believe the role was offered by our publishing company with the best intention of providing a valuable work experience opportunity.”

If you’re suggesting that this placement was offered purely out of the goodness of Morrisons’ / Result’s heart, I’m afraid I just don’t buy it. The ad actually states that have a new project you need a junior assistant for – and the quality of their work clearly matters. (You say their organisational skills must be ‘superb’ and some magazine experience is ‘preferable’). This is not just a work-shadowing or tea-making role. Look, I’m not saying that the person who placed the ad has devil horns. They probably do genuinely think that this internship will be good ‘experience’ for someone – which it might be. But that doesn’t matter – because what I’m saying is that getting people to do proper work for you, unpaid, is nearly always ILLEGAL. The ‘intention’ of the person who posted the ad – and whether the intern will benefit from it – is simply not relevant.

“We will continue to monitor the type of placements offered by our suppliers to ensure they are fair and transparent to all involved.”

Okay, I think you’ve missed the point here – or are you trying to say that I’VE missed the point? It doesn’t matter how ‘transparent’ you make it that you consider a role to be ‘work experience’, an ‘internship’, a ‘paid role’ or ‘slave labour’. If you don’t PAY a person to do what amounts to a PROPER JOB, then it can never be ‘fair.’

Enough of this nonsense.

I’m sick of being fobbed off by press offices who refuse to answer our complaints with proper replies. We are drawing their attention to a very serious matter – that their company, or one of their suppliers – is doing something that is extremely likely to be ILLEGAL. Yet they don’t even have the courtesy to respond in plain English, let alone show us that they are taking this seriously.

I’m going to get back to Morrisons – because this PR rubbish is getting right on my nerves.

But before I do, does anyone want to add any points I’ve missed?

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