Since 1999 Sportspeople has provided a free listing service for Volunteer and Internships, with these roles sitting alongside professional employment opportunities. Each year over 2,000 Volunteer and Internship roles are advertised at Sportspeople providing a meaningful service to organisations and job seekers.
We monitor the internship listings as closely as possible and have in the past, asked advertisers to modify their listings where we feel there may be an abuse of the internship provisions. We also do not list commission only roles and we attempt to, as far as possible given the volume, ensure every advertisement is accurate, not misleading to job seekers and importantly does not disadvantage a job seeker should they accept a role.
Employers are reminded very specific laws exist in Australia and New Zealand governing unpaid work and these laws provide very clear directions on what is and what is not lawful. You can view a summary of the Unpaid Work - Fact Sheet here
Unpaid work can be in a number of forms including unpaid work experience, unpaid trials, vocational placements and unpaid internships. Whether an unpaid work arrangement is lawful under the Fair Work Act (2009) depends on whether an employment relationship exists or whether the arrangement involves a vocational placement.
In many ways a vocational placement is easier to understand as the work experiences are part of an education or training course. Most tertiary education in the sport, fitness and aquatic sector particularly, includes some requirement for professional placement. So advertising for an Intern and engaging them over a specified period provides important work skills and of course, assists the employer by having an extra set of hands. More information is available at the Vocational Placements.
If there is an employment relationship the person engaged as an Intern or Trainee is an employee and therefore entitled to a minimum wage. Whether in writing or verbal, if an employment contract exists, employers are legally bound to pay a wage. One of the tests whether an employment relationship focuses on whether the employer receives the main benefit from the relationship as the Intern/Trainee provides significant productive work for the Company. If this is the case it is likely the Intern/Trainee should be paid. Volunteers are not employees and therefore do not have to be paid.
Employers are reminded to check the current laws as they relate to unpaid work. As a rule of thumb, unless the role is a Volunteer or offered as part of Vocational Training, you should seek further advice before advertising or engaging an Intern/Trainee.
RM - Sportspeople
First Published 2018