The high street gift and clothing store JOY has removed its advert for an expenses-only internship lasting up to 12 months, after claiming was posted on their website “without sign-off from our HR team”.
On Monday JOY was the first employer to be named in our “Shame intern Scrooges” campaign, running all week on Graduate Fog. We are exposing employers who are currently advertising unpaid internships, and reminding them of their duty to pay their interns a fair wage for their work.
Our friends at Intern Aware then pass screen shots of the adverts to HM Revenue and Customs, who last month promised to investigate all cases in which it appears that the national minimum wage law may have been broken.
Seeing our story, and how we had struggled to get any kind of response from anyone at JOY, a journalist from Huffington Post UK Students decided to have another go too. In JOY’s full statement – seen exclusively by Graduate Fog – is pasted below. It comes from a JOY staff member whose LinkedIn profile lists her job title as PA / HR (Er, aren’t those quite different things?). It says…
Thanks for your enquiry. In the past year we have offered five internships, four of whom are now in full-time employment with JOY. One came from France with a view to assist in our marketing in France (without prior experience but a relevant degree) and now looks after some of our valued customers in France and Belgium. She enjoys the trust of our customers and they love to engage with her. The second was employed via BBC 3’s ‘The Insider’ documentary and now has a full-time role within our marketing department — with a particular focus on our menswear department. He does an excellent job and we are very happy with him. Another previously worked in our Croydon store and after applying for a marketing internship now works full-time within the department. We find her very valuable. The fourth employee was offered full-time employment within a week of joining our accounts department as we were so impressed with her. She wanted to learn accounting before going for a professional course. We expect to sponsor her. All of these staff were paid during their internships.
Furthermore we have at least twenty roles on our website where we are offering immediate full-time employment as we have plans to open five more stores in the near future and we have need for people to assist in our various endeavors including launching our new menswear line — this will be shown for the first time in Berlin in January next year.
The design internship role on the website was posted without sign-off from our HR team. Thank you for bringing this to our attention — it has now been removed.
We have negotiable hours whereby a candidate can work either our standard office hours of 9am-6pm, or a part-time role where it’s flexible depending on the candidate’s availability.
In passing out of our 270 full time employees we never have more than one or two interns at a time. When we take on someone for a JOY internship, it is generally with the hope that ultimately we will be able to offer them a full-time position. They are offered a chance to be fully immersed within the fashion retail industry, whether it is from a buying, design or marketing perspective. The experience, contacts and training they attain will be invaluable for them should they remain at JOY or move elsewhere within the sector following the completion of their internship.
Obviously, Graduate Fog is pleased to see that JOY have removed the advert. But we were disappointed that when we contacted them again about how much these past internships were paid, they failed to respond. We wish HM Revenue and Customs all the best getting to the bottom of what’s been happening with internships at JOY.