Posted by Fair Work Ombudsman
on 28 November 2018
Trials are a legitimate way to see if someone has the skills required for the job. But there are only limited circumstances when they can be lawfully unpaid.
Sometimes an employer might ask a person to do an unpaid trial while they evaluate them for a vacant job. This is used to determine if the person is suitable for the job by getting them to demonstrate their skills, and is sometimes called a work trial.
Unpaid work trials may be unlawful where:
it isn't necessary to demonstrate the skills required for the job, or has continued for longer than is actually needed. This will be dependent on the nature and complexity of the work, but could range from an hour to one shift
it involves more than only a demonstration of the person's skills, where they are directly relevant to a vacant position, or
the person is not under direct supervision for the trial.
Any period beyond what is reasonably required to demonstrate the skills required for the job must be paid at the appropriate minimum rate of pay. If an employer wants to further assess a candidate's suitability, they could employ the person as a casual employee and/or for a probationary period and pay them accordingly for all hours worked.