Employment Contract Considerations

Coaching and Teaching Employment Considerations

Whilst the following cannot be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, this document provides a brief outline of work situations.

In addition to workers being provided a Fair Work Statement; a copy of the National Employment Standards and a Guide to Workplace Health and Safety for the work venue, workers should be extended common courtesy and advised when commencing as to:  

    • what their rates of pay are

    • what conditions they are being employed under (e.g. terms or award)

    • when they will be paid

    • how they will be paid

    • How the National Employment Standards affect them in the workplace.

Within the Aquatics Industry, there are four usual types of work situation.

They are:

  1. Volunteers. They are not paid, though may receive an “Honorarium” which is tax free to cover out of pocket expenses and as a sign of gratitude. Any honorarium fee paid does not relate to hours worked. From an insurance perspective they are usually covered by the club’s insurance if they are a paid up member of a Swimming Australia affiliated club whilst undertaking approved club activities.

  2. Employed. PAYG tax is deducted and the superannuation guarantee is paid by the Employer. Employment may be on a casual, part time (hourly rate) or full time wage. Usually the Employer will provide all necessary work equipment e.g. kick boards, venue and clients. Employed staff are usually covered by their employers insurance cover and often may also pay for attendance at professional development events such as conferences and ASCTA membership. All employed staff fall under Fair Work Australia’s National Employment Standards regarding issues like minimum rates of pay and hours worked, loadings, holidays, sick pay, superannuation and a swag of other potential entitlements.

    1. Casual employees are paid an hourly rate but will need to work (or be paid for) a minimum number of hours. No holiday or sick pay is due. Employment may be terminated at any time. Casuals are paid a 23% loading above the full time hourly rate to compensate for no holiday or sick pay and loss of other full time benefits.

    2. Permanent part time employees are paid on the hours worked and may accrue sick pay, holiday pay and other benefits on a pro-rata basis.

    3. Full time employees are paid a wage for a certain number of hours each week and may be paid overtime and penalty rates for nights and weekends as per the award or fair work conditions. Holiday pay, sick pay and other core employment conditions are paid.

  3. Contractor/ Sole Trader/ partnership. Contractor/ Sole Trader/ partnership pay their own tax, insurance and superannuation. Usually Contractor/ Sole Trader/ partnerships are paid more (30 -50 % above casual rates), but have more expenses. They often collect the income and pay a rebate to the club, pool management or local council. They may also be lessees of the pool.

  4. Companies, organisations and entities. As employers of others, they are responsible for tax, superannuation, professional development, insurance and income from the business. They operate under corporate governance rules.

Swimming and water safety Teachers fall under the Fitness Industry Award of 2010. Reference should be made to this award for guidance of minimum pay rates and conditions.

There is no collective agreement or federal award that covers swimming coaches specifically.

General information regarding all employment conditions may be obtained from Fairwork Australia website www.fairwork.gov.au

Coaches not employed under a contract arrangement may come under State Awards that define an industry sector. Swimming Coaches often come under comparable qualifications and duties defined for similar industry sectors, such as sport and recreation awards.

A person holding a valid swim coach’s licence (i.e. must be registered under the National Coaching Accreditation Scheme of the Australian Sports Commission, and be a current member of ASCTA) has the equivalent of a TAFE Certificate qualification. There are usually no penalty rates assigned to coaching hours, as it’s expected a coach will work ‘unusual hours’ and weekends within the limitations of part-time or full-time hours of employment. We strongly encourage all potential Employers to actually review a coaching session delivered by the potential coach and to the check validity of accreditation claims with ASCTA. ASCTA can confirm the accreditation level, licence and membership status. This may have a bearing later in relation to invoking Member Protection policies should difficulties arise.

The coaching accreditation system in Australia is:

·                Swim Australia™ Teacher of Competitive Swimming (SAT CS) – entry level, this person is qualified to give stroke correction and transition learners into swimming squads and on to training squads. They may work independently delivering stroke correction with advanced learn to swim, stroke improvers; mini or junior squads but should be under the supervision of a more senior coach when delivering training programs to training squads. Entry-level coaches usually fill casual or part-time employment positions. A SAT CS has completed a formal coaching qualification at the entry level as a swimming coach.  The SAT CS may work independently to prepare junior athletes or novice competitors. The SAT CS may also work under the guidance of a coach having higher qualifications in applying more complex training programs to age-group (i.e. 13-17 years) or senior athletes. The SAT CS will primarily assist swimmers in their technical development and deliver training programs that improve speed and endurance. The SAT CS will normally seek assistance in drawing up long-term training programs, counselling of athletes, and implementing more advanced performance development training plans.

·                Bronze Licence – this is the basic club level competitive coach in Australia. This person is qualified to coach club level swimmers of various ages and write training programs for energy systems. A Bronze coach must complete the required theory course and practical experience requirements. This is usually completed after completing the entry-level requirements. The Bronze coach is qualified to deliver a training program that engages swimmers from novice to senior and provides a standard of training that prepares those athletes for Club, District and State level competitions. The coach will be able to exercise independent judgment in the planning, assessment, and delivery of training programs within a Club environment.

·                Silver Licence – this coach has a ‘performance’ qualification and has demonstrated the ability to coach swimmers to National Age Qualifying standards. Silver licenced swimming coaches are usually on a career pathway and in most cases are contracted employees. A Silver coach has completed an advanced course and has demonstrated the ability to guide athletes to a designated performance standard that is set at a National level. The Silver coach will be capable of planning and supervising advanced skill development and performance training programs utilising a variety of methods; including the use of sports science principles and current ‘best practice’ methods. The Silver coach may act as a mentor to less experienced coaches and may take on additional coach education and Club development responsibilities. NOTE:  Some Bronze Coaches may have completed the theoretical study and assessment tasks for a Silver accreditation and only requires swimmers performances to gain the next level of accreditation. Their salary should recognise they are somewhere between a Bronze and Silver coach (i.e. a provisional Silver coach pending meeting one final criteria)

·                Gold licence – this coach has demonstrated the ability to coach swimmers to National Open and International standards.  Coaches at this level are usually salaried. A Gold coach has completed a course of advanced study and may have many years of practical experience.  The Gold coach has demonstrated the ability to guide athletes to National and International performance standards under the criteria established by the National Sporting Body (i.e. Swimming Australia Ltd.). The Gold coach is capable of working to advanced performance objectives of elite athletes, exercising independent judgment and taking responsibility for program design and implementation. They contribute to the development of coaching in their sport nationally and to the development and promotion of coaching as a profession.

·                Platinum Coach – These are Gold Licence coaches who have been recognised by ASCTA and Swimming Australia as having had swimmers achieve World Record or Olympic Medal performances and who have demonstrated the highest level of coaching knowledge and application.


Swimming coaches are classified by their NCAS registration. These are ASCTA recommended salary ranges for permanent full-time employment:



Average Salary per annum

Australian Dollars

Recommended Hourly Rate of Pay for Casual Employment



$20 - $25



$23 - $35



$30 - $50



$40 - $70

*Not NCAS registered

  • Permanent part-time salary may be adjusted from the full-time scale. Hourly rates of pay adjustment may vary considerably, based upon the tasks performed and the skill / experience required by the coach.

  • Salary or wages payable under employment agreements, or contractual arrangements may be well above the minimum.

  • Where a coach is receiving a higher salary or hourly rate of pay than the recommended (see above) for his/her classification, that coach should not have such rate of pay reduced because of these recommendations.

  • Increases may occur based on years of qualification, outcomes and performance.

Coaches are employed by their employers to perform tasks, meet standards or goals as agreed upon in their employment agreement, which sets out the obligations and benefits to each party.  Details for each coach’s job should be documented in a job description as provided by the employer.

Coaches are required to use their best endeavours to support the success, reputation and interests of those they coach, their employer, and the sport. Coaches are expected to apply their knowledge, skills and energy to the best of their capabilities to achieve established organisational and program goals.

Coaches are also required to keep their coaching skills up-to-date through such means as membership of professional associations, NCAS (i.e. National Coaching Accreditation Scheme – a program of the Australian Sports Commission) accreditation, and on-going professional development experiences, formal or informal study, private research, and attendance at relevant conferences and seminars and competition events. The employer shall provide reasonable opportunity and support for coaches to pursue these goals of keeping their skills up-to-date.

Australian Swimming Ltd (SAL) as the national sporting body, and the Australian Swimming Coaches and Teachers Association (ASCTA) as a stakeholder in SAL and the organisation dedicated to the professional development of swimming coaches, have implemented a licence program for persons holding a coaching qualification. Premium membership in ASCTA (and thus also SAL) allows individuals holding a current qualification to practice as a ‘licenced coach’ within the Club system (or coach Club registered swimmers).  Licenced coaches must comply with the Safe Sport Framework, ASCTA professional Code of Conduct, and all relevant State law governing Child Protection.

The recommended salary for each of the four recognised levels of NCAS accreditation may be used as a guideline only for Swimming Clubs or other employers to negotiate an appropriate salary or hourly wage.  Employment agreements should take many factors into consideration and should be written to include these (and possibly other) items:

  • Duty statement of the coaching position

  • Level of independence required by the coach

  • Past experience and record of performance required by the position

  • Salary (or hourly wages) that reflects the stated duties and performance expectations

  • Minimum superannuation guarantee from the employer (where required)

  • Conditions of bonus or incentive payments

  • Term of employment

  • Condition of review of the coach’s performance (including any probationary period)

  • Reporting requirements of the coach and review requirements of the employer

  • Conditions under which allowances or expenses are paid / reimbursed

  • General expectations of the employer (i.e. average hours of work per week, etc.)

  • Conditions governing termination of employment (including any redundancy payments or severance pay)

  • Provisions for extension of the term of employment or conditions of re-employment

  • Employer and employee obligations and/or expectations for professional development (including any provisions for financial support or paid leave)

  • Leave entitlements and conditions (including the amount of annual recreational leave) and all types of leave provisions (i.e. sick leave, maternity or paternity leave, long-service leave, etc.),

  • Conditions covering severance pay

  • Work environment (i.e. what may, or may not, be provided by the employer)

  • Procedures for settling employer – employee disputes

  • Provision for professional membership fees, insurance, etc.

All of these employment considerations should be addressed in a written employment agreement that is offered by the employer and accepted by the employee (i.e. coach).

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