Broadspring Consulting

Two Key Facts About Interns And Volunteers In Your business

There’s No Such Thing As Free Staff

It’s often been said that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Well that applies to staff too. Yes you can have interns and/or volunteers in your business as long as you follow two simple rules.

There has been some publicity recently about employers being fined and ordered to pay make up pay because they have misused interns or volunteers as staff.

Bringing people into your business is a significant decision and one that is important to get right.

As with most things there are ways to do that which are more effective than others. Engaging an intern or unpaid person has many risks if you do it the wrong way.

Two Rules For Engaging Interns Or Volunteers

Rule One – volunteer is under no obligation to do the work
Rule Two – the individual is watching, observing and learning rather than producing any work or research.

Under the Australian Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), unpaid work is only lawful if:

  • the worker is a student undertaking a “vocational placement”, as defined in the Act;
  • or there is no employment relationship (for example, where an employee is a true unpaid intern or volunteer).

What that means is that a student can do work experience in your business for a defined period of time and be unpaid.

Volunteers can work for you in your business as long as there is no intention of forming an employment relationship and the volunteer is under no obligation to complete the work.

When there is no obligation for work to be done and no research or work is produced.
These are the times when you could describe the relationship as that of a volunteer or intern.

Two useful articles are here
You may find this article from Russell Kennedy Lawyers helpful – http://www.rk.com.au/insights/intern-volunteer-or-employee-how-to-know-when-to-pay-and-avoid-penalties-for-failing-to-do-so-/)

Another useful perspective comes from this article in HC Online http://www.hcamag.com/hr-news/lawyer-warns-against-using-unpaid-trials-215270.aspx)

There are many legal and appropriate ways to engage people in your workforce. Making sure that you have the right people, the right number of people and with the right skills in your business is essential.