Work experience is when you work with a business for a short time as part of a formal program at your school, TAFE or university. It's sometimes called work placement or student placement.
Here are some rights and responsibilities you have when you do work experience:
Who can do work experience?
You can do work experience if you're over 14 and have the written consent of your parent or guardian. Students up to the age of 21 are able to do work experience.
How much should I get paid?
The minimum rate of pay for work experience is $5 a day under the Victorian Work Experience Agreement that you will sign with your work experience employer.
What about tax?
If you're paid $5 per day during work experience, you don't have to get a tax file number or complete an income tax return. Your employer also doesn't have to give you a group certificate at the end of the financial year.
If you're being paid more than the minimum work experience rate, find out from the Australian Tax Office if you need a tax file number. Also find out if you need to lodge an income tax return for that financial year.
What happens if I get injured during work experience?
Just like any other employee, you have the right to a safe and healthy work environment and that includes being free from danger, harassment and bullying.
If you do get injured on the job during work experience, you’ll be treated the same as any other worker. You won’t have to pay the costs of your medical treatment. You can make a work-related injury claim through WorkSafe Victoria.
WorkSafe doesn’t cover you if you’re injured in a transport accident travelling to or from work. However, you’ll be covered under the Transport Accident Commission (TAC).
Work experience for under-15s
If you're under 15, and you want to do work experience in a factory or other declared high-risk industries, you'll need be directly supervised.
You’ll also need to make sure your employer has a Child Employment Permit (CEP).
High-risk industries include:
- agriculture (primary industries) and horticulture
- automotive - retail, repair and service
- forestry and logging industries
- hairdressing and beauty
- hospitality – cafes, restaurants, fast food and accommodation
- security services
- veterinary, parks and wildlife.
Work experience you can't do if you're under 15
If you're under 15, you can't do the following types of work experience:
- door-to-door selling
- work on a fishing boat other than a boat operating on inland waters
- work on a building or construction site at any time before the building is at lock-up stage
- civic construction
- defence force and emergency services
- some retail areas including butchery, fishmongers, tattooists and where guns and ammunition are sold
- mining, quarrying, extraction, recycling plants, foundries and tips
- electricity transmission and distribution.
If you're under 15, you can't work in the following industries:
- equine industry (horses)
- security industry.
Things you just can't do at all
There's also equipment you're not allowed to use and activities you're not allowed to do, regardless of your age, when doing work experience. This includes things like:
- operating power-operated machinery (chainsaws, bulldozers, welders, forklifts)
- working at a height above two metres
- giving medicine to or bathing patients.
Getting the most out of work experience
The benefits of work experience include:
- getting experience to add to your resume
- learning what a job is really like
- getting a referee you can use on job applications
- making contacts who could help you find paid work.
Before starting work experience you should:
- talk to your work experience coordinator from school
- contact your employer at least two weeks before starting.
During work experience you should:
- do the work your supervisor asks you to
- observe the policies or rules of your workplace (e.g., privacy, internet use)
- be polite and respectful
- be prepared to do some general, boring work (but don't be scared to ask to do more complex tasks)
- ask questions if you're not clear how or why to do things
- let your school and employer know if you’re going to be absent or late
- report any problems to your work experience coordinator before trying to handle things yourself
- keep a diary/log book and do any assignments set by your school
- keep contact numbers of your parents/guardians, school and employer with you so you can contact them if you need to.
After you've finished work experience you should:
- finish all school assignments related to work experience
- send a letter or email to thank your employer, outlining what you got out of the placement
- let your work experience coordinator khow the placement went
- keep a copy of your employer evaluation for use in future job applications or placements
- stay in touch with your work experience employer to see if paid work becomes available.