Ask HABA: Staff Trials and Skills Tests

Christina Arciuli, CEO, Hair & Beauty Australia (HABA), answers a frequently asked question. 


One of the questions most frequently put to the organisation, is whether you need to pay potential employees for trials or skills tests. In the below example, Christina explains what the employers’ legal obligations are.

Q. I currently own a small salon and I want to bring someone in for a one day trial to see if their skills will service my clientele. Does this one day need to be paid for?

A. To avoid any underpayment claims from Fair Work, it is important you use the correct terminology when asking a potential employee to come into your salon to demonstrate their skills. Should you ask for a trial, this will need to be paid for, but if you ask for a skills test, then you needn’t pay the potential employee for their time.

A trial period is generally a length of time a potential employee would come into the salon to work for you to see if firstly, they are suited for the position, and secondly, if they would enjoy working within your salon’s environment. If you’re potential employee is attending to clients and generating revenue for your salon, the time worked will need to be paid for. This person will need to be paid at the same rate as the position they are applying for. The only exception to this rule is apprentices who shouldn’t be paid as an apprentice until they are hired and signed up by an apprenticeship centre.

However, if you are simply bringing the potential employee in to assess their abilities for the position this may be considered to be a skills test. A skills test is usually a short period of time where the potential employee can demonstrate what they can do and how well they can do it. For example, if the person is demonstrating a beauty service such as a facial, massage or waxing, which is performed on either their own volunteers, models, or at a discounted rate within the salon, this is classified as a skills test in which you would not have to pay the potential employee for the hours they work.

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