Should You Be Paid for Your Trial Shift?

Especially if you’re new to Sydney’s hospitality industry, you’ve probably experienced some grey area surrounding payment for your trial shift and interview.

And that’s no surprise since there are no hard and fast rules. There are, however, some guidelines to consider when agreeing to a trial shift. As always, we recommend using the Fair Work Ombudsman as your point of reference. To help you get there, we’ve rounded up the most important takeaways to help you understand your rights and ensure that you’re not being taken advantage of during your trial shift - unintentionally or not.


We’ve spoken about paid versus unpaid work in hospitality before. And, like unpaid work, unpaid trials are acceptable, but in very specific situations. Read on to discover when you should and should not expect to be paid for a trial.

What is a trial shift? 

A trial shift is a common practice within Australia to determine whether or not a potential employee is suitable for the role. A trial shift should be used for the employer to observe the potential employee’s skills before hiring them.

When should trial shifts be paid?

Before agreeing to a trial shift, you can (and should) ask your potential employer if the trial shift is paid. Trial shifts should be paid if an observation has already taken place or is unnecessary.


According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, work trails may be unlawful where:

  • It isn’t necessary to demonstrate the skills required for the job or has continued for longer than is actually needed. This will be dependent on the nature and complexity of the work but could range from an hour to one [full] shift
  • It involves more than only a demonstration of the person’s skills, where they are directly relevant to a vacant position, or
  • The person is not under direct supervision for the trial.


What to do if you believe you haven’t been fairly compensated for your trial shift(s)


If you’ve noticed that you’ve been paid incorrectly or detect a possible mistake after doing your research, you should politely raise your concern with your direct manager.


If you’re looking for more advice surrounding your pay, check out our blog on how to determine whether or not you’re being paid the correct hospitality award. While you’re at it, we also recommend familiarising yourself with your Tax File Number (TFN) and ensuring that you’re filling out your tax file declaration correctly.


Searching for a hospitality role with full HR support where you are paid for every single trial shift? Apply below and we’ll connect you with Sydney’s best restaurants, events, and nightlife.


About the author Carlyn Shaw

Drawing on 12 years of hospitality experience and coming from a Communications background, I am passionate about all things hospitality.


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