Unpaid work

Unpaid work can take on different forms - from vocational placements, unpaid internships, unpaid work experience and unpaid trials. They are entered into for a number of reasons. These include:

  • to give a person experience in a job or industry
  • to test a person’s job skills
  • to volunteer time and effort to a not-for-profit organisation.

With some of these arrangements it’s okay not to pay the person doing the work. With other arrangements the person is actually an employee and should be paid.

Employees may also need to complete formal or informal training to make sure they have the right skills and knowledge to perform their job. This can include on-the-job training, online or formal training courses or team training.

If an employee has to do training as part of their job, they have to be paid the right pay for all hours worked. 

Employees also have to be paid the right pay for time spent in team meetings or opening and closing the business, if their employer requires them to be there. 

Example: Payment for training

Joe just started as a sales assistant in a shop. Before his first shift, he had to complete an online course that showed him how to use the cash register and explained all the company policies. This took him 2 hours. When he finished the course he worked 3 hours on the shop floor.

Because the training was compulsory, Joe had to be paid for the 2 hours he spent doing the online training as well as the 3 hours he worked on the shop floor. 

Find out about types of unpaid work arrangements and some of the problems that can occur with:

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