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NSW Student Vocational Placements

Discussion in 'Employment Law Forum' started by wingbats, 12 September 2014.

  1. wingbats

    wingbats Member

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    Hi there,

    My son is undertaking a veterinary degree in NSW. This requires him to complete a year of student placements working in veterinary clinics. These are lawfully unpaid positions and that's fine.

    What I am interested in knowing is what legal protections exist for students in this situation. In particular, is there any limit on the hours they can require them to work?

    The university requires students on these placements to work in the university clinic from 7am to 7pm five (and occasionally six) days in a row during their internship year. These hours are compulsory and non-negotiable - any days that they're off sick have to be made up at another time and can delay their graduation significantly.

    There's no question in my mind that this is unhealthy but is it legal?
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    What document says the hours and days are compulsory?

    12 hour days/5days per week seems unreasonable at first glance. Could it be that during each day might rotate between say 7am-4pm and 10am-7pm with an 1 hr for lunch? And student placements are not normally for the full year. Check the documentation again.
     
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  3. wingbats

    wingbats Member

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    Thanks for the reply Rod.

    That was my reaction when he told me too - I thought he'd gotten the information wrong. But once I read the email he received, it turned out he was right. He's also spoken to friends who are in the year above in their degree, who are currently working at the clinic, and they've confirmed that the information is correct.

    We received this information in an email detailing what the students should expect when they begin their year of internships in November (in vet science the students do indeed do a complete twelve months of unpaid vocational placements.)

    The document explicitly states that the students are expected to be there for twelve hours each day for five consecutive days per week on normal weeks, and occasionally for six consecutive days per week when they're rostered on for weekend work.

    I've just quizzed my son further on this point and he says that they do this for four months (at the university clinic). Then they spend the rest of the twelve months at various other veterinary clinics which are not owned by the university. Their hours at these are set by their supervisors but are likely to be the same.

    My son doesn't really want to make waves - he doesn't want to get a bad reputation with the university, who will be marking his performance. But we're both concerned. The travel time to the university from where we live is in excess of an hour, which means that by the time he gets home each night, he'll effectively have done a fifteen hour working day. I'm concerned about driver fatigue and so forth. If all this is legal - well, we'll just have to make it work, because he's four years into a five year degree now with a HECS debt to match, so we're well and truly over a barrel.
     
  4. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Your son will cope better with fatigue than me :( the advantages of being young again ...... Maybe check to see if accommodation can be provided.

    What University is involved? And have you done your own independent check with the University?

    The rewards for a good vet are high, hope he goes well.
     
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