Getting paid in cash for your hard day’s work can seem like magic. After all, it’s easier, and you can often bypass the bank and do what you want with your money straight away. Doing this can be legit, assuming the correct tax has been deducted and you are getting your worker’s entitlements. Otherwise this is called ‘cash-in-hand’ and is illegal.

What is cash-in-hand?

Some businesses use cash payments to employees, so that they can avoid paying tax, superannuation and other entitlements to their workers. This is what we have come to know as cash-in-hand or getting paid under the table. If you are getting paid your wages in cash, you could be:

  • getting paid less than the correct award wages
  • ending up with a large tax bill because your employer has not taken tax out of your pay
  • missing out on superannuation contributions
  • not covered by workers compensation insurance.

When is it legal to get paid wages in cash?

If you are getting paid in cash, you should:

  • receive regular pay slips showing all of your earnings and the amount of tax taken out
  • get a payment summary (group certificate) each year which sets out your full earnings for the year and how much tax has been deducted
  • check with your employer that you are receiving super contributions

Speak to your employer if you aren’t getting your correct entitlements. If any issues are still not resolved, go to to make a complaint.

“Don’t hit your head working under the table”

Nate took a cash-in-hand job at a building site, and injured his hand when a nail-gun pierced his palm. Luckily he was not seriously injured. He also nearly fell of the second story of a building when a wind blew up while he was holding a frame. In both instances he would not be covered by workers compensation insurance, as he was being paid cash-in-hand and had no record of being an employee.

Being paid cash-in-hand puts you in a vulnerable position if you are injured at work. You people need to make sure they’re not being exploited in this way.

Cash in Hand Activity Sheet


Relevant Resources

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