Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Gen Y: will work for free!

with 2 comments

The founder of Even It Up! (Diane Lee) teaches part-time at Tafe.  She has noticed a disturbing trend among Generation Y: they are working for free.

Example #1 – Jonah*

Jonah had found a job in a restaurant.  The owner wanted him to work for  a “trial period” for a week before making a decision as to whether to hire him.

Example #2 – Chelsea

Chelsea wanted to break into the graphic design industry, and a friend of  her family’s (who had a graphic design business)  gave her a number of projects to work on (with strict deadlines) as “work experience”.

Example #3 – Brenton

Brenton was keen to get an apprenticeship, so was working for a week as a “trial” before being “formally” offered work.  The potential employer was a friend of the family.

In all cases, Diane advised them that being asked to work for free was, in fact, illegal.  Interestingly, they said they didn’t know (we are pretty sure, though, that their “employers” did!).  More interesting, though, was that these young people  felt they had no option, with their rationale being:

  • If I want the job, then I have to do it…
  • It’s a friend of the family, so I feel obligated…
  • It’s only for a few days, and then I get a job at the end…

Even It Up! can only assume that there are thousands of young people being taken advantage of in a similar way.   And it will continue because of the power differential.  We doubt that any young person will risk possible employment (in this tough job climate) by telling a potential boss that what they are asking them to do is illegal.

* Names have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals

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Written by evenitup

September 24, 2009 at 7:14 pm

2 Responses

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  1. My sister-in-law was asked to do a trial at a pub. They never called her back in so she sent them an email a couple of months later saying she realised she obviously hadn’t gotten the job but hoped they’d be kind enough to pay her for the work she’d done.

    They replied saying they were happy to do so and asked for her bank account details.

    2 weeks later she emailed again, saying that she hadn’t received the money and would they like her to re-send her bank details.

    She got no response.

    A further week later she emailed and notified that she still hadn’t received the money. In this email she pointed out that they were legally bound to pay her for her time.

    They replied the next day, snarkily saying they had no legal obligation to pay her (!!) but as they were good people they would pay if she could re-send her bank details, which she duly did.

    A week later she sent another email saying that she had still received no money. 2 days later she received $30 in her bank account.

    $30 for a four hour shift is well below the legal minimum wage but at this point she thought it better to cut her losses and has had no further contact.

    But I think this illustrates that even employers aren’t necessarily aware of the requirement to pay people for work done, whether or not it is a “trial”.

    Jess

    June 30, 2011 at 5:12 pm

  2. Yes, I worked that one out very quickly when my son was screwed over ONCE ! Hello bastards, they have parents !

    ScrewedOver

    September 11, 2010 at 9:59 pm


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