It may be tempting to accept a ‘cash-in-hand' job, especially if it is your first job, or if you are having trouble finding work. 

But, be wary! Too often, ‘cash-in-hand' means ‘off-the-books', where there are no records, no pay slips, and a high risk of wage theft. This is where an employer avoids paying you entitlements like the minimum wage, superannuation, or penalty rates.  

Some dodgy employers will pretend they are doing you a favour, but in reality you lose a lot more than you gain. You may not be able to prove that you worked there, for how long, or prove your hours. This makes it harder to enforce your rights. Employers who offer ‘cash-in-hand' jobs often don’t have proper workers’ compensation insurance, which means that you may not be covered if there’s an accident.  

Getting ‘cash-in-hand' is different to being paid wages in cash. Your employer can pay you in cash as long as you receive a proper pay slip, are being paid superannuation, and the right amount of tax is being taken from your earnings and sent to the Australian Tax Office.  

Scenario 

Gisele has just completed a 4-hour trial shift as a waitress in a restaurant near her university. The manager tells her that she has gotten the job and tells her come back tomorrow night. He tells her that she will be paid in cash and hands her a $50 note. 

This is not okay.  

You must be given a pay slip, and must be paid at least the minimum wage. The minimum wage is $19.49 an hour, meaning that Gisele has not been paid properly and she should have gotten paid $77.96 for her shift.  

What do I do if I am being offered a ‘cash-in-hand' job? 

No matter what, you don’t need to agree to work ‘cash-in-hand'. 

Taking a job and being paid ‘cash-in-hand' is not worth compromising your entitlements, and health and safety at work. If you are being offered a ‘cash-in-hand' job, and it looks like they are doing this to avoid paying you your full entitlements as a worker, you should report the employer to the Fair Work Ombudsman. 

If you think you are not being paid properly, get in touch with us. We can give you advice about what you are entitled to, and help you decide what to do. We can also direct you to other people who can help.  

To find out more about how to join your union, visit http://www.unionsact.org.au/joinyourunion/ or have a look at our fact sheet here.

Authorised M Harrison for UnionsACT, 11 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601.

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