Should I volunteer at a for-profit company?

Hi Aunty B,

I have expressed an interest in working for an organisation which is a money making enterprise (I don’t want to name it, but it is a longstanding and reputable weight loss company). The answer I got back was that I’d probably have to start off by volunteering.

I’m in two minds about this.

On the one hand, I think I would consider doing it as long as it didn’t go on for too long and there was a strong chance of being offered a paid role.

On the other hand, I think that real volunteering is working for no pay for a non-profit organisation where the work is very service oriented towards the less fortunate in the community.

So I have a bit of an issue with working for no pay for a large and profitable corporation (they are running a very slick national advertising campaign on television, so if they have the means for that…).

Is there any current thinking on so-called volunteering at a commercial organisation?

Is this becoming more common?  Should I consider doing this?  If so, what should my conditions be?



Dear Thanks,

How marvellous. Why didn’t I think of that? Getting employees to volunteer not to be paid. Brilliant!

We too could get people to work for nothing. Just think! We wouldn’t have to pay you a salary. We wouldn’t have to do any paperwork. Oh and we wouldn’t have to pay all those taxes. No PAYG, no FBT, no workers comp – and we wouldn’t have to pay your superannuation!

Oh it just gets better! No payroll tax. In fact, if you are volunteering you probably just turn up and, as an employer, they are not even responsible for your welfare at work. And what do you give them in return? Eight hours of your life every day: Sounds good to me. In fact, you have done every employer a great service. Here we are all running highly responsible internship programs for a few days to help skill up the nation when we could have been placing people on long-term volunteering programs.

Oh. Except that’s illegal. Drat! And immoral. Damn!

And, no, it’s not becoming more common. There are not enough mugs around who agree to work for nothing. And, no, you should not consider doing it. Why? Because you are not a mug.

Be smart,

Your Aunty B

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