Fair Work Australia is examining whether a trial recruitment method at Telstra involving a five-day interview process meets Australian workplace laws.
Telstra CIO Patrick Eltridge last week revealed the telco had been trialling the new hiring method in its IT department for a handful of workers. The company had so far taken on three employees that way.
Eltridge said interviewees join a working team doing local field work and are watched for the five days.
The Fair Work Ombudsman said it had not received any formal complaints about the method but would make inquiries into the matter.
According to the Fair Work Act 2009, trial work involving a person performing productive activities at a place of business at the request of the employer would normally be considered an employee and therefore be entitled to pay.
“If a work experience placement or internship is used to determine a prospective employee’s suitability for a job, the person would be considered an employee for the trial period and should be paid as such," Fair Work's website states.
A Telstra spokesperson said the five days were held in an assessment centre where candidates undertook a number of tasks and were provided with feedback. The spokesperson did not comment on whether candidates received payment.
“This was not five days of working for Telstra. It should be noted that a number of the people who went through this process were internal Telstra candidates,” the spokesperson said.
They also ruled out extending the trial outside Telstra's IT department, despite earlier comments by Eltridge indicating the program would be broadened across the business.
“While IT intends to use this assessment method again it is only for a small number of very senior roles, which require a specific skill set, such as ‘learning on the fly’. It is not intended to deploy this assessment method widely across Telstra," the spokesperson said.