Unpaid Internships are often an area that comes under much scrutiny for those few who take advantage of the situation. However, as per Fair Work Australia, unpaid internships are perfectly legal, with the deciding factor being who is seen to receive the ‘primary benefit’ of the arrangement.
For example: If an accounting firm has the intern do nothing except coffee-runs, clean desks, and answer the phone, then obviously the primary benefit is going to business.
If however, eg., an accounting firm trains and mentors a intern in MYOB, takes the intern to some meetings, has them shadow a manager for a day, help out with some work from which the intern learns, etc., the primary benefit would be seen as being received by the intern, and therefore the unpaid internship is legal.
Other factors include the duration of the internship (up to 3 months is fine), and the businesses understanding that the intern may have to work part time to work for an income elsewhere and may have classes to attend too.
Still need some clarification on your own situation? Give us a call, we are always here to help and to guide candidates on the ethical and proper path.