Fair Work Ombudsman crackdown on unpaid trials and work experience

Thursday 7 February, 2013

Professor Rosemary Owens of the University of Adelaide via SmartCompany offers the following guidance for businesses that use unpaid trials, internships or work experience:

1. Is there a contract?  

Look at whether there is a written or oral contract of employment.

'The broad principles of the law are that if someone has a contract of employment then they are covered by the legislation,'? she says.

'If someone is doing work for you and you are not paying them in broad terms, it is unlawful under the legislation if that person is an employee.'?

2. Vocational educational placements are exempt

Owens says there is a special exemption in the legislation for those who are working on a vocational educational placement.

'But that has quite a strict meaning, it is for those who are doing work as a placement as part of a course or degree they are studying and that course has to be approved by government,'? she says.

3. Check with the Fair Work Ombudsman

'If businesses are at all hesitant they should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman,'? Owens says.

She says the FWO is a good port of call as it has the responsibility for providing education and information about rights and responsibilities.

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