Student Employment


Like most teenagers, many of our older students are either involved in or currently looking for part-time work.

Helena College students are well-regarded in the workplace. A number of students were offered jobs after completing placements this term in Workplace Learning (Years 11-12) and Work Experience (Year 10). We regularly get feedback from employers that Helena students have the qualities they look for in a casual worker. They are well-presented, punctual and reliable; self-motivated with a positive attitude and with good communication skills, oral and written.

However, it is important that students (and their parents) know and understand their rights when it comes to applying for part-time work. This especially applies to cases where students are being asked to work unpaid trials, in their effort to secure a job.

The following information comes from the office of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Unpaid trials (skill demonstration)

A brief work trial can be legally unpaid if it is necessary to evaluate someone’s suitability for the job, and:

  • it involves no more than a demonstration of the person’s skills, where they are relevant to a vacant position
  • it is only for as long as needed to demonstrate the skills required for the job. This will be dependent on the nature and complexity of the work, but could range from an hour to one shift
  • the person is under direct supervision of the potential employer (or other appropriate individual) for the entire trial.

Any period beyond what is reasonably required to demonstrate the skills required for the job must be paid at the appropriate minimum rate of pay. If an employer wants to further assess a candidate’s suitability, they could employ the person as a casual employee and/or for a probationary period and pay them accordingly for all hours worked.

One example of an unlawful work trial also comes from the Ombudsman’s website:

John, a restaurant owner, was told by his friend that he could improve the profitability of his business by supplementing his regular staff on the busy weekend shifts with unpaid workers ‘being trialled’. John’s friend promoted this scheme as a ‘fountain of free labour’ because there would never be a genuine intention to offer ongoing work to the people being ‘trialled’.

Acting on the advice of his friend, John instructed the manager of his restaurant to start ‘churning and burning’ through resumes left with the business by job seekers – offering them unpaid weekend trial shifts. John also instructed the manager to not offer the job seekers more than one unpaid trial shift so as to make sure it looked like the ‘trials’ were genuine.

Schemes designed to disguise employment relationships are illegal.In this example, John and his business could face significant penalties for breaching workplace laws, in addition to having to back-pay the workers for the time they worked.

If you or anyone you know has experiences similar to the case above, contact the Fair Work Info Line on 13 13 94. For more information visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website. 

It is possible to remain anonymous when reporting concerns – visit this page on the website.






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