TWO University of Adelaide law experts will investigate unpaid work arrangements, such as internships and work experience, to see if they are legal.
Andrew Stewart and Rosemary Owens have been commissioned by the Fair Work Ombudsman to clarify the regulations surrounding unpaid positions.
"Anecdotal evidence suggests that a growing number of workers are offering, or being asked, to do unpaid internships or work experience," Professor Stewart said.
"They often do this in order to get a foothold in the labour market.
"In most cases there's no problem when it's a short placement, especially if it's done as part of a recognised education or training program. "However, there are instances where young workers have spent months, or even years, doing unpaid work that would ordinarily be undertaken by a regular employee."
Professor Stewart said there was a pressing need to identify what was lawful and establish a better understanding of how these arrangements should be regulated and at what point experience became exploitation.
Professors Stewart and Prof Owens will consult with industry groups, unions, government and non-government bodies, universities and schools about their experiences and perspectives on the issue.
They will also look at what happens overseas.
"Workers may be entitled not just to be paid for their work, but to receive other benefits such as superannuation and holiday pay," Professor Owens said.
"It's important for everyone to be clear on when that is the case and when it should be the case."