Do I need to pay a person while they’re on a work trial?

Sometimes the best way to assess suitability is to allow the person to actually do the work required by the role. A work trial gives you the opportunity to accurately evaluate the skills a person claims to have against those required by the role.

However, if you decide to undertake a work trial, you must pay the person for the work they perform during the trial. The only exception is where “work experience” is part of a coordinated and recognised work program conducted through an educational institution.

You can certainly show a person around the office and introduce them to other employees. But if they do any work at all, you must pay them. Modern awards don’t distinguish between a work trial and a permanent or casual employee. Therefore, you must pay a person on a work trial (even if it’s only for a few hours) the rates and allowances set out in the modern award that would apply to them in the relevant role.

If you aren’t satisfied with a person’s performance during the work trial, you can terminate their employment without the risk of an unfair dismissal claim (provided they haven’t completed a minimum employment period that qualifies them for protection against unfair dismissal).