Can I be asked to work for NO PAY?
Yes. Unpaid work trials are allowed. However, it must be brief and only to determine your suitability
for the job. Fair work Australia suggests that a maximum of one shif is sufcient for a boss to
confrm that you can do the most complex of jobs.
You should be continuously supervised during a work trial. For safety and health reasons, NEVER
agree to a work trial where you are not going to be permanently supervised.
Other types of work arrangements that may apply to new starters
Tere are other types of work where Fair Work arrangements do not apply. Tese are outside the
regulated system, but if there is no option, you may fnd these types of arrangements being ofered
to you:
Training rates
In some Enterprise agreements, the employer and employee will have agreed training arrangements.
Tis may include reduced rates while you are training. Tis is fair enough, but be cautious of some
employers who abuse this and pay training rates while you are doing work that should attract the
full rate.
Probation periods
If your employment agreement includes a probationary period at the start of work, you are still
entitled to be paid at the full rate for the job and workers entitlements during that period. (Sick
leave, annual leave etc.)
If you are unsuccessful, at the end of the probation period you will be given notice of termination
and afer this notice period is complete your employment will be terminated. Benefts are paid out
on completion of the notice period.
Commission Only
Tese are usually sales positions, where the employer does not ofer any guarantee of wages or
working hours.
Tey may ofer some benefts such as a uniform or perhaps use of a telephone for selling purposes
but not sick leave or annual leave etc.
Commission only jobs are fraught with difculty in terms of employment and need to be
approached with a great deal of caution. However, some people have no choice but to accept them,
and trust in their sales ability to create some commission.
In all circumstances, you should NEVER spend any of your money to secure “commission only”
type of work.
If you are asked to invest, or to buy products so that you can sell these products on commission -
What about my pay?
By law, you must receive a payslip no later than one day afer payday.
A payslip will show how much you have earned, and payments that must be made by the employer
to you and the government (tax and superannuation).
It will also show the hours that you have worked: ordinary hours, overtime hours, and any special
payments or deductions.
Tat’s why it’s always a good idea to keep a diary for your personal record of all hours that you work.
Superannuation is paid by the employer on your behalf to your account (for when you retire) in
addition to your pay.
You are not allowed to be paid superannuation monies in cash. Tey must be paid into an account in
your name in an independent superannuation fund.
What about a break while I am working?
Breaks are usually unpaid. Usually, a break in “your time” will be written down in the work
agreement for your job.
Typically workers receive a 30-minute break afer 4 – 5 hours of continuous work.
You may be expected to have your break at a certain location, so travel to / from that location is in
“your time”.
What about public holidays?
Public holidays are the days that the government expects most people to have of work.
However, it is becoming more and more common for people to work on a public holiday.
If your job requires you to work on a public holiday then the work agreement should be clear about
what the arrangement is. It may include penalty payments to ofset the inconvenience, or it may
have some other compensation (time of in place (or lieu) of you working on a public holiday, etc.)
Am I required to join a union when I start work?
Everyone has a right to join a union covering the type of work you are doing. Normally
the HR department will have told you what the “responding” union to your Work
Agreement is and may give you the name of the local union ofcial.
Union membership is confdential and it is illegal for anyone to
discriminate against you because you are or are not in a union.
What should I do if I feel I am being taken advantage of while a trainee?
It’s always difcult for young person in this situation. Let’s discuss ways that this can occur.
Concerning Terms and Conditions of Work
In the frst instance it’s always best to assume that the employer has made a genuine mistake.
Remember, you are positive and optimistic. But you are not a mug. So bring this to your supervisor’s
attention. Not in a demanding way.
Simply say “I think there’s something wrong here...can you look into it for me?” If the supervisor’s
explanation still doesn’t seem right then (and only then) you need to take it up a level.
Tis might mean getting someone on your side. In most cases this will mean going to a co-worker
and asking them if they agree that you are missing out on entitlements, or being taken advantage
of. If the co-worker agrees that you have a genuine grievance ask them if they would be willing to
support you by taking this back to the boss.
If the co-worker does not want to become involved then you need to take it to the experts.
Tere are two ways of doing this. One is to go to the HR group and explain your issue to them. If
you receive no joy from them, then you may need the support of an employee representative group,
such as a union. Tere are a number of organisations that deal with employment grievances. All of
them will tell you to keep records of your work and work hours. So as soon as you feel something is
wrong, start keeping your notes. Tese can be as simple as the dates and hours you are working.
If your concern is about pay and conditions, then it is prudent to avoid confrontation and seek the
advice of a third party. Te company may have a grievance procedure, and in my experience those
companies with such a procedure will generally try and do the right thing.
Those companies who do not have a grievance procedure are generally smaller companies.
Complaints about pay and conditions in smaller companies can quickly become personal and ofen
lead to confict, unless they are handled very tactfully.
Or it may be that your complaint is more job specifc, such as workplace health and safety. In these
cases you should keep more comprehensive records, including witnesses, description of task, any
instructions you have been given, etc.
Remember, disputes will arise from time to time. Be open and optimistic about your grievance;
assume that people have made a genuine mistake in the frst instance. Adopting a positive approach
will prevent you from leaping to conclusions and maybe saying something that you regret later.