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In Grinholz v Football Federation Victoria Inc  the Fair Work Commission has had to determine whether a football coach was a volunteer or an employee of the Football Federation Victoria Inc (“the Football Federation”). [1]

The contract between the coach and the Football Federation offered the coach up to $6,000 as an honorarium, half of which he would receive at the beginning of the program and the other half at the end. The contract between the two parties was terminated by the Football Federation, following an alleged breach of contract by the coach.

The coach argued that he had been an employee and was therefore entitled to an unfair dismissal remedy for the termination of his contract. The Fair Work Commission was unwilling to accept the coach’s argument, determining that the contract between the parties was not an employment contract under workplace law.

The Fair Work Commission noted that whilst the contract offered the coach money for his services, this was merely a payment to assist the coach with travel, accommodation and out of pocket expenses.

Ultimately, the Fair Work Commission determined that the essential character of the arrangement between the parties was more like that of a volunteer, than an employee.

Tips for Employers

Employers should:

  • ensure employment contracts or volunteer contracts are clear and unambiguous about their nature
  • seek advice from an employment lawyer if you are ensure of how to draft either employment contracts or volunteer contracts
  • update any current employment contracts to ensure that they are in line with current employment law


If you would like more information about this article or if you would like any assistance in other employment law matters from an employment lawyer in Sydney, please feel free to speak with or email one of our specialist employment lawyers on (02) 9635 7966 or