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9.9.1 Duration of a Work Trial

Last amended 
29 November 2022


It is preferable that work trials do not extend beyond 12 weeks. However, in some situations, a longer period may be considered reasonable.

  • To enable the Fair Work Law provisions for lawful unpaid work and placements to be met, care must be taken to ensure that the purpose of any extension to the work trial’s duration will be primarily for the client’s benefit, such as to better equip them with further training or necessary experience for future employment. 
  • Otherwise, if the work trial’s extension will merely provide the host employer with an already trained worker for a longer time period, then Fair Work Law would view this as having become an employment relationship and, as such, it should no longer be a work trial.

Ultimately the duration of a work trial depends on factors such as:

  • the aim of the placement;
  • the return to work medical guidelines provided by the treating doctor;
  • the need for a graduated return to work; and
  • the skill base and confidence of the client.

While a work trial will normally be up to 12 weeks duration, it must be flexible to meet the needs of the client and the host employer.

The opportunity to participate in work trial should provide the rehabilitation service provider with the option to meet with the host employer for the purpose of negotiating paid employment post-trial.  Depending on the circumstances, this may necessitate either an extension of the work trial for a further short period, if such action is likely to enhance the client's chances of securing ongoing paid employment.