It’s that most dreaded of phrases at work ‘we only pay in cash, that way you don’t have to pay tax!’
Why? Because quite simply, cash jobs are one of the biggest cons out there.
It’s always a good idea to stop and think ‘why is it in this employer’s interest to pay me in cash?’
The answer is because you’ll inevitably be getting underpaid. This can happen in a few different ways. Most often you’ll be paid a flat rate and miss out on those sweet sweet penalty rates that young workers rely on and love! Every cash in hand worker has known the pain of working on Cup Day or coming in on Easter Sunday and getting paid a measly 15 bucks an hour.
So how does the boss get away with all this? Well because too often there are no records and no proof. Cash in hand workers rarely receive payslips, and are often not given timesheets or rosters. All of this adds up to make it very hard for you to enforce your rights at work.
Your workplace is likely to be much less safe than if you were on the books. Because there’s no record of your employment, there’s very little incentive for your employer to create a safe working environment. This means that basic safety practices are often ignored and staff receive little training.
So what if you get hurt at work? You might still be covered by workers’ compensation laws in Victoria, but you’ll certainly have a lot more trouble accessing it than workers who are on the books might. Your boss may try to claim that they never employed you, and getting their assistance in lodging the claim might be difficult.
I’m working cash in hand, what do I do?
The first thing you need to do is immediately start collecting proof of your employment. There’re a few ways you can do this but these are some of the most common:
- Take screenshots of any texts from your boss about your shift times
- If you have any emails from your boss talking to you about your job, make sure you hang on to them
- Take photos of any rosters, timecards or documents in the workplace with your name on it
- Take screenshots if there’s a Facebook or other social media group where you trade and swap shifts
After that you can contact us at the Young Workers Centre on 1800 714 754 to try and get some assistance if you’re getting underpaid or are unsafe at work.
Remember, it’s always better to be on the books, paid in your bank account and with a valid tax file number.