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Hair & Beauty Australia Industry Association


Posted April 16, 2018

It is very common in the hair and beauty industry to have a potential new staff member in for a job trial prior to offering a contract. In work where talent and skill is everything, a job trial offers a great way for salon owners to assess the hands-on skills of their future employee. However, this course of action can be a legal mine field for salon owners if they are not aware of the ins-and-outs of asking someone to work for free. Here are the most important things you need to consider.


Unpaid work trials may be considered unlawful by the Fair Work Ombudsman when:

  • The job trial isn’t necessary to demonstrate the skills required for the job, or the trial 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 shift.
  • The job trial involves tasks that are more than just a demonstration of the person’s skills e.g. complete cut and colour on a paying customer;
  • During the job trial, the person is not under direct supervision.


Rather than asking potential employees to come in for an unpaid trial, they can be asked to come in for a skills test instead. This is done within the recruitment process and generally does not exceed the time limit of a regular salon service. In most circumstances a skill test will be done on volunteers or models within the salon so an employer can assess a potential employee’s abilities. Skills tests can be undertaken the same day as the interview or at a scheduled later date.


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.


Salon owners must ensure they correctly pay anyone that:

  • They have entered into a work agreement with;
  • Does not need to demonstrate skills required for a job, eg. New apprentices or receptionists;
  • Is doing work that the business needs to be done and would normally be done by an employee.


Salon owners are considered to be in a work arrangement if

  • You have stated that you want to create a contract for an employee and offer them a position;
  • There is a commitment by the person to perform work for the benefit of the business or organisation and not as part of running a business of their own or;
  • If there is an expectation that the person receive payment for their work

These situations are assessed on a case by case basis by the Fair Work Ombudsman, but its important for salon owners to be clear about their intention and careful in their wording when making statements to potential staff members.


Work experience is another matter again. Often salon owners will work with local schools to provide work experience for teenagers who may be interested in joining a salon in the future. Normally, this involves simple tasks like cleaning or answering phones. Work experience is not required to be paid by salon owners, but it’s important to note that if they meed any of the above requirements, they may be entitled to wages and could leave your salon open to legal action if not appropriately handled.


It is incredibly important for salon owners to correctly set expectations during trial periods or periods of work experience. If you don’t, you leave your business open to legal action and a potential employee with the rights to claim payment for the work done. If you are at all unsure about whether you can offer a job trial or work experience, call the team of Industrial Relations Advisors at HABA. With extensive experience in working with salons, we know the specific ins-and-outs of the award and can advise you on the best course of action for your specific situation. Call the team on (02) 9221 9911 for advice today.



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