The eccentric designer’s London office is recruiting a range of “volunteer” interns to assist staff across departments, from accounting and human resources to graphic design and jewellery making. Some of the schemes last as long as three months, for approximately five days a week, between 10am and 6pm – mirroring typical working hours for many paid employees.
The placements, which ask applicants to send in a CV and covering letter, demand that interns undertake everyday office tasks, using computer programmes like Word and Excel, with some stating the need to cover “reception duties” when required.
The adverts, which emerged after Dame Vivienne said “poor people” should buy fewer clothes, will fuel the debate over whether unpaid interns who are being asked to do a job are being “exploited”.
Tanya de Grunwald, founder of careers consultancy Graduate Fog, said: “Dame Vivienne saying ‘poor people’ should ‘buy less’ sounded lofty to most of us – but to fashion interns her comments were downright offensive. Giving lifestyle tips to people on low incomes while advertising five unpaid internships is disgusting.”
The law makes it clear that if people are given set tasks and hours, they are by definition ‘workers’ and must be paid. Earlier this week David Cameron urged unpaid interns to report their employers to authorities if they felt they were being exploited.