Why are young Irish women losing money through online sales jobs?

In the News podcast: How people recruited by marketing companies end up working for free

Long before the pandemic, Karina O’Dowd was already looking for opportunities to work from home. It was 2017 and the young Sligo woman was dealing with a health condition that required her to work remotely.

"I was getting sick of being on social welfare, I'd been on it for so long," O'Dowd told the In the News podcast. "I looked on several job websites to look for working at home, it was really limited, there was really nothing at the time. And then, somebody got in touch with me from over in England. "

O’Dowd was offered the chance to join the online sales team of a skincare company with the flexibility to choose her own working hours. She was sceptical at first but eventually decided to give the opportunity a go.

O’Dowd spent the next 12 months losing her money while working for free for a multi-level marketing company (MLM).

MLMs have grown in popularity across the UK and Ireland in recent years, particularly during the pandemic when online companies wooed individuals who were struggling financially with the promise of big money and work-from-home flexibility.

Young mums and those with health conditions who are unable to work outside the home are often targeted by these companies through online adverts.

But what exactly are these MLMs and is there anything illegal about how they operate?

Irish Times reporters Jessica Doyle and Adesewa Awobadejo speak to the podcast about the investigation they carried out into MLMs in Ireland, while Karina O'Dowd described the year she spent working for one of these companies.

Today: How young Irish women are losing money in too-good-to-be-true social media sales jobs

In the News is presented by reporters Sorcha Pollak and Conor Pope.

Listen to the podcast here: