Unpaid trials

An unpaid work trial is when an employer asks a job applicant to work for a period of time at the place of business as a “trial” and does not pay them wages for the trial period. Trials are generally used to find out whether a job applicant is suited for a job. As a general rule, a prospective employee must be paid for any trial work they have performed to establish their suitability for a role.

The Fair Work Ombudsman often receives complaints from young people about not being paid for work trials. Both employers and job seekers need to be aware that not paying workers for work trials is illegal and unfair. If you believe you have not been paid for a work trial, Contact us for assistance.

Who undertakes work trials?

Many people starting out in their first job are asked by employers to work an unpaid trial to find out whether they are suited for the job.

Job seekers generally undertake unpaid work trials for one or more of the following reasons:

  • they assume that they will be paid for any work carried out
  • the employer has led them to believe that they will be offered the job after the trial period 
  • they believe that an employer is legally entitled to ask applicants to work for a trial period without pay
  • they are desperate to do anything which could lead to a job, even if the chance of getting work is small.

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Page last updated: 08 Dec 2011