Scott Morrison's first Federal Budget announced the creation
of the 'Youth Jobs PaTH' (Prepare-Trial-Hire)
program – a program designed to encourage up to 120,000
unemployed youth into the workforce through skills training
programs, paid internships and incentive payments for prospective
employers. While further details will come to light over the course
of the Federal Election campaign, employers who want to participate
will need to look before they leap, to make sure their
participation in the program doesn't lead them, later on, to
fall foul of the minimum wage provisions in awards and
The Budget papers suggest that the Youth Jobs PaTH will involve
six weeks of skills and job hunting
internship placements of between 4 to
12 weeks duration, in which interns will work between 15 to 25
hours per week. During these placements, jobseekers will receive
$200 per fortnight (on top of their income support) from the
Federal Government, while businesses who take on interns will
receive an upfront payment of $1,000; and
larger subsidies paid to businesses
who take on Youth Job PaTH jobseekers on an ongoing basis, with
accelerated wage payments to prospective employers forecasted to be
between $6,500 and $10,000.
We're yet to see how the program will interact with the
minimum wage provisions in awards, but social media has lit up at
the suggestion that jobseekers under this scheme will be paid as
little as $4 per hour (excluding the unemployment benefits these
jobseekers will retain during this time) during stage 2. The ACTU
has even described the scheme as 'ripe for
It seems unlikely to us that the Youth Jobs PaTH will give
employers carte blanche to escape from all obligations relating to
However, what will be important for businesses wanting to
minimise the risk of claims is how they engage with jobseekers both
during the internship program and (more importantly) after it is
completed – and that there is a clear line between those
involved in the internship program and those who have moved into an
This is particularly so where the vulnerability of young workers
to 'intern' arrangements has been a key concern for the
Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). This was highlighted in the recent
decision in CrocMedia, where the Court looked at minimum
wage obligations for relationships that were described as
'internships' or 'vocational placements'.
The Court decided that two radio producer 'interns' had
actually been engaged as employees, rather than unpaid volunteers.
The Court placed emphasis on the fact that the company had derived
a profit or productive work from the contribution of the interns
and the length of their engagement.
What does this mean for businesses participating in the Youth
Jobs PaTH program and for using internship arrangements more
A few things:
comply with the program requirements
while the internship placements are under way, and ensure the
jobseekers understand that they are being engaged as part of the
make sure it is clear when the
internship placement ends;
make sure that, if a jobseeker
transitions to an ongoing basis or out of an internship
arrangement, their terms and conditions of employment meet the
minimum employment standards under any applicable awards or
make sure that, at all
times, you comply with workplace health and safety
obligations regarding all workers in your business (including
interns and unpaid volunteers).
The Youth Jobs PaTH programme raises some interesting questions
about the dynamic between employers, employees and interns. These
are arrangements that need to be tightly managed to minimise
exposure to underpayment claims and FWO prosecution.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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