Am I Being Exploited In My Internship?

Is intern-exploitation a thing?


Intern exploitation occurs when an intern, whom is interning for free are working as a normal employee and making contributions to the said company.

According to Fair Work Australia, a legal internship is when;

“the person who’s doing the work should get the main benefit from the arrangement. If a business or organisation is getting the main benefit from engaging the person and their work, it’s more likely the person is an employee.”

Therefore Intern Exploitation HAPPENS. For instance, if an unpaid intern is designing logos for a company and the company are using these logos for their clients or own brand this is classed as illegal and intern exploitation. As the company is profiting from the interns free work.

Interns Australia, founded in 2013 conducted a survey across their followers which resulted in shocking findings. Their survey suggests  that 87% of internships are unpaid, and around 60% of those are illegal. Not only this but Interns Australia have estimated that on average interns are loosing $6000 for their labour.

Similarly, Experienced Not Exploitation, a student run initiative formed in 2018 have stated that 58% of Australian University students say that they have completed an unpaid internship during their studies and feel as though they were exploited for their time.

So now that we know exploitation can happen within an unpaid internship, and we know what to look out for… how can we stop it? We need to be aware of the legalities of internships and when an internship does not feel right, or/and you think you are being exploited or unfairly treated you need to speak up!

You can speak to your University and Fair Work Australia who can guide you in the right direction and help you out when you feel that you are being unfairly ‘used’ as an unpaid intern.

Correspondingly, Interns Australia has released a Internship Pledge, which is “essentially a gold-star validation programme where companies’ internships have been reviewed and recommended.” (Pedestrian.Tv, 2018).


Written by: Alysha




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