Outworkers

Outworkers are people who work at home or at a place that isn’t a typical business premises (for example, a garage attached to a person’s house).

Understand your entitlements

Outworkers in the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry work from their home, a residential garage or other place not usually considered a business premises. Their work typically involves:

  • making clothing, bags and footwear
  • cutting, sewing, or finishing work such as embroidery or sewing tags onto apparel
  • manufacturing buttons and textiles.

TCF outworkers can be engaged as employees or contractors. Outworkers engaged as contractors are often considered to be employees for the purposes of most protections under the Fair Work Act 2009 (FW Act).

Most outworkers work in the TCF industry and are covered by the Textile Award.

The Textile Award is a legal document that provides for wages and other conditions for outworkers, including:

Outworker terms and conditions in the Textile Award usually still apply even if there is an enterprise agreement in place that covers the outworker.

Regulation of outworkers under the FW Act and the Textile Award needs to be considered together with any state or territory regulation of outworkers.

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Visit our Language help page for information about workplace conditions in multiple languages including Vietnamese and Traditional Chinese.

Information outworkers must be given

As an outworker in the TCF industry, your employer or principal (if you are a contract outworker) must give you a copy of Schedule F of the Textile Award. This information must be in a language that you understand.

Schedule F includes an information sheet that sets out some of the entitlements you must get, including:

  • pay rates
  • hours of work
  • leave and public holidays.

Minimum pay and conditions

Schedule F of the Textile Award says outworkers need to:

  • be engaged on a full-time or regular part-time basis
  • receive at least the minimum award pay rate for the appropriate classification, even if you are a pieceworker
  • get overtime, certain allowances and penalties
  • get the minimum entitlements in the National Employment Standards.

If you are a contract outworker, some provisions of the Textile Award don’t apply to you. A full list of these provisions can be found in clause F.5.8 of Schedule F of the Textile Award.

Written agreements

When any new arrangement is made for work to be done, your employer or principal must enter into a written agreement with you before you start the work. The agreement must say whether you will be provided with work on a full-time or part-time basis.

If you are a part-time outworker, the agreement should also include information about:

  • the agreed number of hours you will work each week (which must be at least 15 hours per week or 10 hours per week with the consent of the relevant union)
  • whether the hours will be averaged over a longer period of up to 4 weeks.

The agreement must be clear and simple, and given to you in a language that you understand. Your employer must give you a copy of the agreement and allow you time to read and understand the agreement before you sign it.

Work records

Your employer or principal must give you a work record before you start the work.

This record must contain information such as:

  • your employer’s or principal’s name and address and business details
  • your name and address
  • the address where you will perform the work
  • the time and date for starting and finishing the work, including delivery and pick up times
  • a description of the work required and the garments, articles or material to be worked on (including diagrams, where available, and details of the type of article, seam and fabric, and how it is to be made)
  • the number of garments, articles or materials you need to complete in the timeframe
  • details of the time standard used to decide how much time is needed for work on each item, which must be fair and reasonable (including providing more time for work to be performed than the time standard set for comparable work in a workshop or factory, and providing reasonable additional time to perform related tasks such as bundling and unbundling, sorting and packing)
  • the price to be paid for each garment, article or material you complete
  • the number of working hours you have to complete the work
  • the number of hours or days within the ordinary working week needed to complete the work
  • the total amount to be paid to you.

Outworkers employed in another industry

Outworkers employed in an industry other than the TCF industry are entitled to the same pay and conditions as other employees covered by the relevant award. You can find your award and pay rates with our Pay and Conditions Tool.

Tools and resources

Related information

Have a workplace problem?

Problems can happen in any workplace. If you have a workplace problem, we have tools and information to help you resolve it.

Check out our Fixing a workplace problem section for practical information about:

  • working out if there is a problem
  • speaking with your employer or employee about fixing the problem
  • getting help from us if you can't fix the problem.

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