Career

What You Need To Know Before Taking On That Cash-In-Hand Job

Thinking about taking a cash-in-hand job? Here’s a few things to keep in mind before you sign on.

A lot of people are holding out for that one dream job – the one that sees you in your ideal industry, puts a smile on your face and a chunk of change in your pocket. But in a climate where youth unemployment rates are hitting new highs, the government is suggesting work placements paying $4 an hour, and trawling SEEK is a fruitless exercise, sometimes cash-in-hand jobs can look like the only viable option.

There’s a difference between being paid in cash and being paid ‘cash-in-hand’. The Foundation For Young Australians (FYA) recently collated a list of things budding cash-in-handers should keep in mind before they say ‘yes’ to the job, and it’s good information to know. Here are the tips below:

#1 Paid in cash vs cash-in-hand

Paying wages in cash is a legitimate way to run a business, and can often be beneficial to employees. But businesses that offer ‘cash-in-hand’ or ‘off-the-books’ work might be trying to avoid paying you worker’s benefits. That’s a big no-no. When it comes down to it, the only people who benefit from this kind of transaction are employers.

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“Some employers pretend that they’re doing young people a favour by paying them cash-in-hand,” says FYA’s Amy Fitzgerald. “But in reality, they’re denying young workers their public holiday and weekend rates, superannuation, and general workplace rights.” Check your rights on the ATO’s website.

#2 Declare it all

Not declaring that extra $150 per week you earn at a café to Centrelink is a pretty stupid idea.

You’ve gotta let them in on any cash-in-hand income you’re receiving, or you run the risk of them cutting you off for good (they might even make you pay it back, and then some). It’s just not worth it.

#3 Get that payslip

Know this: your employer is legally obligated to provide you with a detailed pay slip, no matter how they choose to pay you (whether cash or bank transfer). The slip must include your total pay before tax, your total pay after tax,  your hourly rate and any penalty rates that apply. Any deductions (tax, super or HECS) should also be noted.

Speaking of tax, your boss has to provide you with a group certificate or payment summary that shows how much you earned over the last financial year. This slip should have your total income, and the total amount of tax withheld. Remember: if you’ve only done a few weeks of cash-in-hand work but need to figure out your tax situation, these certificates are vitally important.

#4 Invisible employees

Think about it like this: if you’re not technically an employee (i.e. you’re nowhere on the books), it’s unlikely you’re going to be covered by company policies – this includes Workcover.

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That means if you’re working in their place of business and an accident happens, you’ll have to foot the doctor’s bill. Legally, your boss has no obligation to help you out, nor do they have the responsibility to give you your job back when you’re fit and healthy again. That’s pretty rough.

#5 There are other options

Know in your heart of hearts that if you don’t accept this job, it won’t be the end of the world. Being unemployed can be rough, but being treated like a second- (or third-) rate employee can make you feel pretty crappy. If you think your employer is being dodgy and using cash-in-hand workers to benefit themselves come tax time, it’s behaviour you don’t need to support.

Try asking them to be paid electronically, that way you’ll have online proof of a transaction. Or if you’re contracting your services out to them, grab yourself an ABN and invoice the company. That way you’re more accountable for what you’re getting paid, and it’s in writing.

By the by, if you’re looking for work and haven’t had any luck, have you thought about updating your LinkedIn profile? Here’s our handy how-to.

h/t: Foundation For Young Australians

Lead image: CBS


Rebecca Russo is a freelance writer, editor, community radio dabbler, occasional hiker and celebrity autobiography enthusiast. She has written for online publications including Junkee, AWOL, Fashion Journal and Tone Deaf. Find her online here.