Student Placements

Student placements give learners the opportunity to apply the theory and skills they gained while studying in a professional workplace.

The placements can give students the chance to get the skills they need to transition successfully from study to work. At the same time, industry gets the opportunity to enrich student learning experiences and increase the number of work-ready graduates.

Placements that meet the definition of a vocational placement under the Fair Work Act 2009 are lawfully unpaid.

What is a Vocational Placement?

Under the Fair Work Act, a vocational placement is lawfully unpaid if it meets all the following criteria:
  • There must be a placement: This can be arranged by the educational or training institution, or a student may initiate the placement with an individual business directly, in line with the requirements of their course.
  • There must be no entitlement to pay for the work the student undertakes: Where a student's contract with the host business or organisation entitles them to receive money for the work they perform, the vocational placement will likely have turned into an employment relationship. Similarly, work arrangements covered by industrial awards or agreements are not vocational placements.
  • The placement must be done as a requirement of an education or training course: The placement must be a required component of the course as a whole, or of an individual subject or module of the course. It doesn't matter whether that subject is compulsory or an elective chosen by the student.
  • The placement must be one that is approved: The institution delivering the course which provides for the placement must be authorised under an Australian, state or territory law or an administrative arrangement of the Commonwealth or a state or territory to do so. Courses offered at universities, TAFE colleges and schools (whether public or private) will all satisfy this requirement, as will bodies authorised to offer training courses under state or territory legislation.
When all of the above criteria are satisfied, hosts are not required to pay students entitlements under the Fair Work Act. However, a host can choose to pay the student at their own discretion if they wish.

If the placement does not meet all of the above criteria, it won’t be a vocational placement under the Fair Work Act. However, this does not automatically mean that the person is an employee and entitled to payment. The next step is to determine whether or not the person is in an employment relationship.

For information about whether someone is in an employment relationship or not, visit Work Experience & Internships.