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On the PaTH of Illegality

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Just over a week ago the government’s 2016 – 2017 budget was announced, which included an internship program called PaTH (Prepare, Trial, Hire). PaTH has raised eyebrows across the nation with mixed responses. And by mixed responses I mean mostly bad.

The PaTH scheme is based on three phases: skills training, voluntary internships and wage subsidies for businesses. The training phase is designed to help youth gain experience in the workforce and therefore become more employable. The internships range from four to twelve weeks which are aimed to start in April next year. The program also includes a $1000 up-front incentive payment for the businesses which will take part.

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The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) reported only yesterday, that according to legal advice given to The Australian Council of Trade Unions, PaTH potentially breaches minimum wage law. If you do the maths, PaTH interns who work up to 25 hours a week would receive just $364 — far less than the $432.25 a 25-hour work of week on the minimum wage legally requires. This has certainly heightened concerns regarding the program.

The controversy that it may actually be illegal could leave the government open to getting sued by job-seekers who see the program (or scam) for what it is, and would hope to recover their unpaid wages.

“The government’s plan is either very badly designed and underfunded, or very well designed to exploit Australian workers and strip them of their legal rights and pay.” said ACTU president, Ged Kearney, SMH reported.

PaTH has already received a lot of negative publicity so all that is left to say is, well, good luck now Malcolm Turnbull, maybe start looking for a new job? We’ll give you an internship.

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