Hungry Jack’s has been slammed by workers and unions for using a taxpayer funded internship program to fill its summer workforce.
The program will see young workers earn as little as $4 an hour which is paid by the federal government, effectively allowing the fast food giant to fill positions without having to pay any wages.
How it works
The internships are part of a government scheme to get unemployed people under the age of 25 into the workforce.
Under the scheme, interns work up to 25 hours a week for up to three months, in exchange for $200 a fortnight from the federal government on top of their standard unemployment benefits — the equivalent of around $4 an hour on top of their regular payments.
What the ad says
Hungry Jack’s placed newspaper ads recently calling for people to apply under the internship scheme, promising 15 hours a week across its Sydney stores:
“Hungry Jack’s stores are ramping up recruitment for Christmas – and are looking to help young people with their first job.”
The union response
The Retail and Fast Food Workers Union was scathing.
“The Federal Government’s $4 per hour ‘internships’ were not supposed to swallow up jobs,” the union said on its Facebook page.
“This year Hungry Jack’s literally replaced its Christmas casual hires with the taxpayer funded internships.
“These were real jobs paid by Hungry Jack’s, but are now paid by the Government and guaranteed to be no more than three months. An entire seasonal workforce replaced with this rotten program.”
Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus slammed the scheme on Twitter, calling it a “whopper rip-off”.
What Hungry Jack’s says
Hungry Jack’s told News Corp that it does not employ interns.
“Hungry Jack’s Pty Ltd is transparent in its workplace agreements and complies with all relevant legislation,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“Currently, the corporation is not advertising for interns and employs no interns in its restaurants.
“From time to time, internships are offered to the long-term unemployed. These internships, part of the Federal Government’s Youth Job Path Program, last from 4 to 12 weeks and aim to assist people in gaining employment.
“Hungry Jack’s franchisees also participate in similar socially responsible programs to assist the long-term unemployed and it is the obligation of each individual franchisee to ensure employees are paid under the relevant and current awards.
“Hungry Jack’s places the utmost importance on the fair treatment of all stakeholders connected to the company.”
What the experts say
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Industrial Relations Claims, said Hungry Jack’s should not be using a government funded program to fill positions in its stores.
“Employing people under these internships not only takes extra shifts away from regular staff, they also deny jobs that would normally go to other workers.
“Legitimate internships are a great way for people to get training and hopefully a job, but all too often they are exploited by businesses who want to save a few bucks and get some cheap labour.”
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