Trial Work

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.

When you are offered a job, you may be asked to work for a trial period, to show that you can do the skills required by the job and to see if you would be a good fit for that workplace.

Trial work should almost always be paid.

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Do I get paid for trial work? 

YES. 

Trial work should almost always be paid (with very limited exceptions). An example of an exception is where the trial is to allow the employee to demonstrate their skills relevant to the position – and only for as long as necessary to demonstrate the skills for the job. This might range from an hour to one shift. Except in those limited circumstances, it is generally against the law for your employer to refuse to pay you, even if you only worked for a small number of hours

For more information about unpaid trial shifts specifically in the hospitality industry, see this webpage from the Fair Work Ombudsman: Unpaid work – hospitality industry. 

Do I need a record of my trial shift?

If you don’t have anything in writing showing that you will be doing trial work (for example, an email from the employer), it is a good idea to send your employer a letter, email or text message, saying that you agree to do the trial work and setting out the details of the date, time and place of the work and how much you will be paid. This will help you later if you don’t get paid for doing trial work, for example if you need to get help from the Fair Work Ombudsman (see below). 

For more information about how much you should be paid, you can visit our pay issues page.  

School work experience and placements

If you are participating in a school work experience program, vocational placement (for example, a prac placement through uni) or volunteering, you do not have to be paid. 

What if I am not paid for my trial? 

Talk to your employer

If you feel comfortable, you can contact your employer directly about payment for your trial work. Before contacting your employer, you can calculate how much you think you should be paid using the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Pay and Conditions Tool or visit our page on pay issues here. 

Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman

If you are not paid for trial work, you can also contact the Fair Work Ombudsman, or call them between 8am – 5:30pm Monday to Friday on 13 13 94. 

It may be useful to have proof of the work you did.  For example: 

  • a copy of the job advertisement; 
  • any emails or letters sent by you or the employer about the trial work; and/or 
  • contact details of witnesses who know that you worked on that day. 

See this information page from the Fair Work Ombudsman for more information about unpaid trials and work experience. 

If you don’t feel comfortable contacting your employer, or if you’re not sure what you’re entitled to, you can contact us for free and confidential legal advice here.

Youth Law Australia would like to express thanks to Hall & Wilcox and the Fair Work Ombudsman for assisting us with the preparation of this material.

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