Unpaid Internships

Eurofins Australia2

All Navitas Professional internships are a component of a broader education or training program. The majority of students placed in unpaid internships are undertaking the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) gazetted Professional Year program.

The DIBP defines the Professional Year as “… a structured professional development program combining formal learning and workplace experience.”

DIBP also states that the Professional Year must be undertaken in either:

  • the applicant’s nominated skilled occupation
  • a closely related skilled occupation.

For more information on the Professional Year and skilled migration please visit immi.gov.au/skilled/general-skilled-migration/professional-year.htm

Unpaid labour is a breach of the Fair Work Act and Navitas in no way condones the use of unpaid labour. Navitas Professional internships are not unpaid labour.

The Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act) clearly states the key difference between an unpaid employee (or where an employee relationship exists) and a lawful unpaid intern. A lawful unpaid internship may also be referred to as a vocational placement, or unpaid work experience and the FW Act specifically states the following:

A vocational placement is a formal work experience arrangement that is part of an education or training course.

Vocational placements can give students important skills to help them transition successfully from study to work, while giving industry and business the opportunity to enrich student learning experiences and increase the number of work-ready graduates.

Vocational placements that meet the definition under the FW Act are lawfully unpaid, regardless of whether an employment relationship exists or not.

Under the Fair Work Act, a vocational placement is lawfully unpaid if it meets all the following criteria:

  1. There must be a placement. This can be arranged by the educational or training institution, or a student may initiate the placement with an individual business directly, in line with the requirements of their course.
  2. There must be no entitlement to pay for the work the student undertakes. Where a student's contract with the host business or organisation entitles them to receive money for the work they perform, the vocational placement will likely have turned into an employment relationship. Similarly, work arrangements covered by industrial awards or agreements are not vocational placements.
  3. The placement must be done as a requirement of an education or training course. The placement must be a required component of the course as a whole, or of an individual subject or module of the course. It doesn't matter whether that subject is compulsory or an elective chosen by the student.
  4. The placement must be one that is approved. The institution delivering the course which provides for the placement must be authorised under an Australian, state or territory law or an administrative arrangement of the Commonwealth or a state or territory to do so. Courses offered at universities, TAFE colleges and schools (whether public or private) will all satisfy this requirement, as will bodies authorised to offer training courses under state or territory legislation.

When all of the above criteria are satisfied, host companies are not required to pay students entitlements under the FW Act.

© Copyright Fair Work Ombudsman FWOFS46

For more information from Fair Work please visit fairwork.gov.au/about-us/policies-and-guides/fact-sheets/unpaid-work/student-placements

Contact your local Internship Placement Coordinator today if you would like more information about hosting a Navitas Professional intern.