Professional trial shifts: are they paid?

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As an employer, trial shifts can be beneficial in deciding whether to hire an employee. A trial shift is a short shift, in which you supervise a potential employee to establish whether they have the appropriate skills required for the job. These shifts usually go for only a short period of time, usually 1-2 hours with the majority being unpaid. If the trial shift goes well and you are happy with the employee’s skills, then you are likely to hire the individual for the position. All unpaid work is governed by the Fair Act Work 2009 (Cth) and therefore employers have a responsibility to follow the appropriate regulations. Read on to find out more about trial shifts.

There are requirements in place to ensure that trial shifts are lawful. These include:

  • The person must be under constant supervision for the entire period of the shift;
  • The shift cannot include more than a demonstration of a person’s skills; and
  • A shift has to be necessary for the job position and can only go for a reasonable length of time. 

If the trial shift goes for longer than an appropriate time then the employer must pay the worker the minimum pay. If the employer is still unsatisfied with the trial, they have the option to hire a worker on a casual basis or place them under a probationary period and pay them according to the hours they work. Probation is a period of time, usually 3-6 months long and allows the employer to decide whether an employee is maintaining the necessary skills and whether they want to keep the employee on. After this period, a meeting is usually conducted where the employee’s performance is discussed and a decision is made as to whether the employee will remain employed.

What questions should I be able to answer if I want a potential employee to undertake a trial shift?

As an employer, it is essential to have answers for the following questions, so as to inform any potential employees as to:

  • How long the shift will go for;
  • Who will be supervising them;
  • What skills and qualities they are expected to demonstrate and will be observed on;
  • Whether this is a paid of unpaid trial shift; and
  • What are the following steps in the recruitment process.

If an employee is also required to complete work training, whether this is during working hours or not, they are entitled to be paid for that time. Any time an employer requires an employee for work, they are entitled to be paid for those hours, and this therefore includes staff meetings and opening and closing the business.

Legal advice

If you require further assistance regarding whether the trial shift you are conducting is legal, our sister company Legal Kitz can help! They specialise in employment related matters, and offer a FREE 30-minute consultation to assist with any of your queries. Additionally, our subscription plan offers employers access to over 150+ legally compliant, employment, and HR related document templates to take the hassle out of the legalities of being an employer. Click here to find out more about our subscription plan.