Work trial guide

This guide outlines the benefits and requirements of workers and potential work trial host employers.


A work trial is a SIRA initiative that provides work-based opportunities for a worker (‘trainee’) to upgrade their physical and psychological capacity for work and/or develop marketable skills.

A work trial places the trainee with a suitable host employer (‘work trial host’) for a short period of time when the trainee’s pre-injury employer is unable to provide suitable employment. In most cases, the trainee will no longer be working with their pre-injury employer.

A work trial is arranged and monitored by a SIRA approved workplace rehabilitation provider in accordance with the SIRA work trial guidelines .

Benefits for trainees

As a trainee, a work trial provides you with an opportunity to:

  • gain work experience in a new job or industry
  • receive training and develop specific skills – eg cash handling, computer skills
  • upgrade your capacity for work
  • demonstrate to a potential employer your ability to do the job.

Benefits for work trial hosts

As a work trial host, you may benefit from a work trial by:

  • having the opportunity to evaluate a potential employee
  • training a potential employee without any financial outlay
  • building a positive perception of your organisation and industry
  • entering into cooperative arrangements with other employers to share suitable work tasks and other rehabilitation arrangements

Financial and insurance arrangements

The work trial initiative is based on the principle that the work trial host will not be out of pocket as a result of their participation in the program.

As the work trial host, you do not make any payment to the trainee. The trainee continues to receive weekly workers compensation payments during the work trial. Costs relating to travel and any essential equipment are paid directly by the insurer or SIRA.

During the work trial, the trainee is not a ‘worker’ as defined by the Workers Compensation Act 1987 (WC Act) and has no claim against your workers compensation insurance. If the trainee’s existing injury changes or the trainee sustains a new injury during the work trial period, SIRA provides the equivalent of statutory workers compensation insurance coverage. Any new injury will be managed as part of the existing claim by the insurer.

SIRA may reimburse any additional expenses for claims made against other insurance policies if it is determined that they resulted from the trainee’s actions. The work trial host must fulfil their obligations under workplace health and safety legislation, notably provide a safe working environment and report incidents to SIRA.

What is involved in establishing a work trial?

A trainee or a workplace rehabilitation provider can approach an employer about their willingness and capacity to provide a work trial. The provider will then undertake an assessment of the workplace to determine if the job and workplace provide a suitable match to the needs of the trainee. The provider develops a work trial proposal, which will include a return to work plan outlining the agreed work duties and other specific considerations that may be relevant during the work trial.

The provider gains agreement for the work trial proposal from all relevant parties, including the trainee’s nominated treating doctor and the insurer.

Work trial host responsibilities

During the work trial

During the work trial, a trainee will work in a supernumerary capacity. They will require supervision and feedback on their work. A supervisor should nominate who will oversee and check the trainee’s work.

Before commencing the work trial, the tasks in which the trainee requires training will be identified in consultation with the work trial host, the trainee and the workplace rehabilitation provider.

The workplace rehabilitation provider will provide advice about the nature of the work and any specific considerations. The provider will maintain regular contact and visit the workplace during the work trial.

Honest feedback throughout the training period will maximise the opportunities presented by the work trial for both the trainee and the work trial host.

The workplace rehabilitation provider will contact the relevant union (if represented in the workplace) to ensure cooperation and agreement with the work trial.

After the work trial

If a trainee seeks work after completing the work trial, it is anticipated they will be considered for any vacancies if they meet the job requirements. The workplace rehabilitation provider will discuss this with the work trial host before establishing the work trial.

The workplace rehabilitation provider will organise a meeting on conclusion of the work trial with the work trial host and trainee to discuss the trainee’s strengths and areas where external training may be necessary.

Employment incentives

If a suitable job vacancy becomes available after the work trial, the work trial host may be eligible for incentives under the JobCover Placement Program, provided paid employment has not commenced.

Incentives include an employer incentive payment, workers compensation premium exemption for the trainee’s wages for two years and protection from the costs of any changes to the trainee’s existing injury for two years.

For more details about the JobCover Placement Program, ask the workplace rehabilitation provider involved in establishing the work trial.

Further information