As you may know, while working in Australia you have workplace rights and entitlements that are protected by law. The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) can help you understand these rights and entitlements, including your right to be paid for all hours worked, and at the correct pay rate.
As a rule, while undertaking productive work for an employer, you need to be paid the right pay rate for all time worked, including time spent:
- training, including on-the-job, off-site and/or online
- attending team meetings
- opening and closing the business.
You can use the FWO’s Pay and Conditions Tool to find out your minimum pay and other entitlements.
However, there are times where an unpaid work arrangement may be legitimate.
Unpaid work and unpaid trials
Unpaid work can take on different forms, including unpaid trials. When starting a new job, an employer might ask you to do an unpaid work trial to evaluate you for the job you’re applying for. This is used to determine if you are suitable for the job by getting you to demonstrate your skills.
Unpaid work trials are only acceptable if it is solely for the purpose of you demonstrating the skills required for the job to your new employer. Depending on the nature of the work, this could range from one hour to one shift and you must also be directly supervised during the trial.
If an employer wants to further assess your suitability after this trial, they can employ you as a casual employee and/or for a probationary period and you must be paid for all hours worked at the correct minimum rates for your role. If the unpaid work trial continues longer than it is necessary to demonstrate your skills, this may be unlawful.
Other unpaid work examples may include vocational or student placements, where you are taking part in a formal work experience arrangement that is part of an education or training course resulting in formal qualification, or volunteer work, where the work provided is benefiting a community organisation or a charity.
If you believe you have not been paid correctly for the time you have worked, you can visit our Fixing a workplace problem page for further assistance.