Fair Work Ombudsman’s new report a welcome addition to work experience debate

Consumer Action welcomes the Fair Work Ombudsman’s new report into unpaid work experience and internships. Experience or Exploitation? The nature, prevalence and regulation of unpaid work experience, internships and trial periods in Australia comes shortly after Consumer Action has obtained refunds for some consumers from businesses which charge for arranging  this type of work.

Of particular interest to Consumer Action is the report’s consideration of the Australian Consumer Law and how it relates to unpaid work experience. The report looks at a number of issues Consumer Action has experienced in relation to unpaid work experience cases, including misleading and deceptive conduct, unconscionable conduct, and misleading information about proposed employment.

Consumer Action welcomes the recommendations for the Fair Work Ombudsman to coordinate with the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission to take a stronger position in relation to the advertising of employment-like relationships. This should include agencies which place consumers in ‘internships’ or ‘volunteer placements’ for a fee, particularly where consumers are under the belief that the positions will help them find paid work which may not exist or eventuate.

Also welcome is the recommendations that greater clarity be provided around the legality or legitimacy of unpaid work experience, either through the Fair Work Ombudsman or law reform.

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