These arrangements can be a valuable way for prospective employees to make the transition from study to work or explore a new career path. Sometimes these arrangements span several months and can lead to ongoing employment.
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An unpaid work experience arrangement or unpaid internship can be lawful if it is a vocational placement see section above or if there is no employment relationship found to exist. In particular:. A local council has advertised an internship program for high school or university students interested in government processes. The internships have been advertised as unpaid positions and students are allowed to select the hours they spend at the council office over a two week period. The council is careful to ensure that the role is mainly observational and there is no expectation that the students will perform productive work during their internship.
The student is gaining the main benefit from the arrangement. It is unlikely that an employment relationship has been created in this case, and the internships are lawfully unpaid. A publishing company has advertised an internship program for recent graduates of copywriting and journalism university courses. The advertisement calls for applicants who are passionate about their career and who are looking for experience as a gateway to future employment opportunities.
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The company advises that it will recruit for the positions based on academic transcripts, work experience and references. The positions are unpaid, but the advertisement notes that the successful candidates will receive perks and networking opportunities throughout their internship. The positions are advertised for three months full-time, with the possibility of ongoing employment based on the candidate's performance during the internship.
The duties listed include general administration, event planning, and proof reading, with some opportunities for writing depending on performance.
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Despite the offer of non-monetary perks, work experience and networking opportunities, the company will receive the main benefit out of this relationship as it involves significant productive work to be performed by the interns for the company. It is likely that an employment relationship will be formed in this case, meaning that the internship should be paid.
A volunteer is someone who does work for the main purpose of benefitting someone else, such as a church, sporting club, government school, charity or community organisation. Volunteers are not employees and don't have to be paid.
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As with work experience and internship arrangements, all relevant factors must be considered to determine whether a person is a genuine volunteer or whether, in fact, an employment relationship exists even though the worker is called a 'volunteer'. The more formalised that volunteer work arrangements become for instance if the volunteer is expected to work according to a regular roster the greater the possibility that an employment relationship will be found. It is less likely that an employment relationship will be found to exist where the volunteer work is undertaken for selfless purposes or for furthering a particular belief in the not-for-profit sector.
Franko approaches a soup kitchen run by his local charity to ask about volunteering. He fills in an application form and meets with the volunteer coordinator who explains the roles and responsibilities of volunteers. Franko will be helping in the kitchen, serving and cleaning. The coordinator confirms that he will not be paid and that and he only needs to attend when he is available. Franko agrees to volunteer once a week when he can and understands he will not receive payment. Franko is not an employee and the charity does not have to pay him for his time.
Even if an unpaid work arrangement is lawful under the FW Act, it is important to be aware that other laws may still apply in relation to matters such as work health and safety or discrimination.
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For information and resources to help you understand your rights and obligations on the topic of unpaid work, visit www. If you might need to read this information again, save it for later so you can access it quickly and easily. If you have a question or concern about your job, entitlements or obligations, please Contact Us. Show help for me. Fair Work Online: www. Ask for the Fair Work Infoline 13 13 The Fair Work Ombudsman is committed to providing advice that you can rely on. The information contained on this website is general in nature.
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Get priority support! Save results from our Pay, Shift, Leave and Notice and Redundancy Calculators Bookmark your favourite pages Ask us questions and save our replies View tailored information relevant to you. Already have an account? Log in now to save this page to your account. Unpaid work Is unpaid work lawful? Vocational placements Is there an employment relationship? These include: to give a person experience in a job or industry to test a person's job skills to volunteer time and effort to a not-for-profit organisation.
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Back to top Vocational placements A vocational placement is a formal work experience arrangement that is part of an education or training course. Back to top Is there an employment relationship? If there is an employment relationship, the person is actually an employee and entitled to conditions under the FW Act including: a minimum wage the National Employment Standards the terms of any applicable award or enterprise agreement. For an employment contract to exist it must be clear that: the parties intend to create a legally binding arrangement there is a commitment to perform work for the benefit of the business or organisation the person performing the work is to get something in return which might be just experience or training the person must not be performing the work as part of a business of their own.
The following factors should be considered: What is the nature and purpose of the arrangement? Was it to provide a learning experience or was it to get the person to do work to assist with the ordinary operation of the business or organisation? Where the arrangement involves productive work rather than just meaningful learning, training and skill development, it is likely to be an employment relationship. How long is the arrangement for? The longer the period of the arrangement, the more likely the person is an employee.
Although even relatively short engagements can still be an employment relationship. How significant is the arrangement to the business? Is the work normally performed by paid employees? Does the business or organisation need this work to be done? The more integral the work is to the function of the business, the more likely it is that an employment relationship could be found. What are the person's obligations? In some cases a person might do some productive work to aid their learning. An employment relationship is unlikely to be found in these circumstances if: the role is primarily observational and, the expectation or requirement to perform such activities is incidental to that learning experience and not primarily for the operational benefit of the business or organisation.
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