The Vulnerable Worker? A Labor Law Challenge for WIL and Work Experience
Asia-Pacific Journal of Cooperative Education, Vol. 14(3), p. 135-146, 2013
Posted: 4 Oct 2017 Last revised: 11 Jan 2018
Date Written: 2013
The Fair Work Act (2009) in Australia deregulates “work” in work-integrated learning (WIL) by distinguishing “vocational placement” from “employee”. Following concerns about the legal position of WIL and work experience, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) published a fact sheet and commenced a joint research project into unpaid work practices. Nevertheless, the student remains vulnerable to exploitation. This article examines, through the lenses of flexibility and worker protection, the labor regulation of WIL and work experience in Australia and the United States. In particular, the author argues that deregulation in Australia and the legal uncertainty surrounding work experience is inconsistent with the protective function of labor law. Drawing on this examination as well as Australian migration law, the author recommends that the Fair Work Act (2009) be amended to strengthen the criteria for “vocational placement” and to provide a definition of “work experience” in the interests of a balanced regulatory framework.
Keywords: Work-Integrated Learning, Work Experience, Labor Regulation, Fair Work Act, Fair Labor Standards Act
JEL Classification: K31
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation