Even It Up!

Shifting the balance for jobseekers

Posts Tagged ‘free work

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

Written by evenitup

September 24, 2009 at 7:14 pm