Call for crackdown on unpaid work - Sydney Morning Herald

Young people need better protection from exploitation in the workplace through tighter regulation of unpaid internships, a NSW parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Community youth services have also called for a national charter to protect young people from illegal or unethical work experience arrangements.

The call comes as the Fair Work Ombudsman highlights a sharp rise in complaints about unpaid work. The number of inquiries it received almost doubled from 520 to 981 between 2012-13 and 2013-14. But Andrew Stewart, a University of Adelaide law professor who conducted a national study into unpaid work, said the numbers understate the real size of the problem.

Professor Stewart, the Ombudsman, community groups and unions are alarmed about a growing market in unpaid work, including internships.

With youth unemployment hitting 20 per cent in some areas, its highest level in two decades, the need for work experience has become vital in the competition for fewer jobs.   

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