Many electrical contractors make use of persons gaining “work experience” without reward. Unpaid internships, work experience and some unpaid work trials are lawful under the Fair Work Act 2009. However, it is important to be sure that any person doing unpaid work is not in an employment relationship with your company.
If there is an employment relationship, then your company has the obligation to pay them the minimum wage and applicable Award entitlements.
In a recent decision by the Federal Circuit Court, a company was fined more than $200,000 and its director more than $8,000 for disguising an employee as an unpaid intern. The Court found the worker had performed 180 hours of work over four months for the company and that the company had exploited the worker by not paying them after deriving a benefit from their work.
In imposing the significant penalties, the Court said it is important to send a clear message to employers to not “disguise employment relationships as unpaid internships and thus deny employees their required minimum entitlements”.
If you answer ‘yes’ to the following questions, it is more likely to be an employment relationship:
If you answer ‘yes’ to the following questions, it is more likely to be a legitimate unpaid work experience arrangement:
[Fair Work Ombudsman v AIMG BQ Pty Ltd & Anor (2016)]
Disclaimer: The above information is not legal advice but a very brief summary of some indicators of a legitimate workplace experience arrangement. You should contact NECA Legal (WA) Pty Ltd to discuss legislative obligations on (08) 6241 6129 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.