Employing a trainee or apprentice is not a simple task and it’s a commitment we take extremely seriously as we’re not just ’employing’ a person – we commit to actually teaching them. TTP has always prided itself on employing trainees to give the younger generation a decent start to their working life particularly supporting the local community where job choices can be quite limited compared to the big city.
So imagine our shock when TTP experienced an unpleasant and somewhat unjust situation – IMHO – that made it’s way to Fair Work regarding one of our trainee employees.
It started quite innocently when TTP engaged Mission Australia Employment to find and source a trainee proofreader to join our onsite team. We managed to employ a young school leaver whose direction was within the media industry where proofreading would be a great start. We completed all the paperwork to secure the traineeship and paid the employer funded $500 upfront training fee, to the selected training group.
Less than 12 weeks later – and still within the probation period – cracks started appearing. The trainee decided on a change in career path, openly declared that the proofreading work was ‘boring’ and that perhaps an overseas trip might on the cards. As Director of the business, you can imagine what was going through my head at this point regarding the level of commitment and if nothing else, the lack of gratification of at least having a job during tough times!
Nothing more was said until the following week when my office staff contacted me whilst I was on an interstate trip to advise the trainee had gone MIA and not called in to notify the office. I spent a good part of the day on the phone to Mission Australia sorting it out. They called me later in the day to advise that they had made contact with the trainee who in turn had advised them that it wasn’t the role for her and wouldn’t be returning to TTP.
So the trainee left the business. We deducted the $500 training fee from her final pay as the training group was not forthcoming in reimbursing TTP even though the training hadn’t commenced. The trainee did not agree with the deduction and threatened to take the issue to Fair Work if she did not receive ‘what she was entitled to’. As soon as I read the word ‘entitled’, I was determined in my conviction to not even warrant a response. However sure enough, a week later, Fair Work started calling the TTP Office.
End result: Fair Work advised deducting the $500 training fee was considered an ‘unlawful deduction’ and payment had to be made to the employee within a week. So again, we did the right thing, paid the trainee what she was ‘entitled’ to and closed the issue. I voiced my frustration with Fair Work who, funnily enough, replied with … ‘It’s Gen-Y’.
It’s a shame the trainee wasn’t more thorough in her role as a trainee proofreader as she appeared to be with the legalities of employment rights within Fair Work!