Paying users

Payment for time and contribution (remuneration)

We recommend paying research participants for their time, experience, and insights they provide to help design and create NSW products and services.   

Paying participants ensures we recognise and value their contribution. This is essential because:  

  • not all participants can donate their time to participate in research, especially if they’re taking time away from work, childcare and other commitments.  

  • people who participate voluntarily generally have time or enough income to attend. Only targeting these people can lead to poor sampling.  

  • only conducting free research means that most people will be unlikely to take time off to participate. 

If funding is not available, you can build your understanding of the problem area and your user groups by: 

  • desktop research, including looking at recent publications, reports, and findings from other jurisdictions about your research topic   

  • hallway testing  

  • usability testing with internal NSW Government teams  

  • short surveys (< 10 minutes), can include Menti surveys.  

The research lead is responsible for deciding whether it is appropriate to pay for the research being conducted. There are some types of research where payment might not be appropriate. For example:  

  • where it may present a conflict of interest  

  • or become a form of indirect coercion (where participants are vulnerable or disadvantaged). 

Payment methods

Your team or agency may already have approved methods to pay people for participating in research. Here, we cover two methods: gift vouchers and bank transfer and what to consider for each option.  

Gift vouchers  

Which vouchers should I buy?  

You can purchase some gift vouchers online. Generally, some options that appeal to a wide audience include grocery vouchers; prepaid debit cards; department or shopping centre vouchers.  

Considerations  

  • Use of vouchers limits personally identifiable information collected and administration to facilitate payment.  

  • Usually, the simplest form of payment is purchasing vouchers    

  • You should communicate up front that payment is in the form of a voucher.  

  • You can provide the Gift Voucher to the participant before they join the research session and obtain acknowledgment in the consent form. If you provide the voucher to the participant via email after the session, you should request acknowledgment of receipt to make sure you have a record of when it was received.  

Example confirmation email  

“For our record keeping, when you receive the gift card please reply with:   

  1. Confirmation that you have received the gift card to the value of $X 

  1. Acknowledgement that this is to be considered income for taxation purposes”  

Bank transfer  

A bank transfer might be considered more valuable to people than gift vouchers  

Considerations 

  • Bank transfers require more information including personally identifiable information to administer.  

  • Bank transfer can take several business days to administer.  

  • If using a bank transfer, consult with your Finance team as you may need to provide:  

  • project cost centre and budget holder approval  

  • participant’s bank details including name; address; branch     

  • amount   

  • confirmation of payment when received by the participant. 

  • You should communicate up front that payment is in the form of a bank transfer.   

  • You should request acknowledgement of receipt.  

Example confirmation email  

“For our record keeping, when you receive the bank transfer please reply with:   

  1. Confirmation that you have received the bank transfer to the value of $X  

  1. Acknowledgement that this is to be considered income for taxation purposes” 

When to pay participants

You should secure your funding before the research activity commences.  

We recommend you process the payment to participants as soon as practicable after the research session concludes to maintain engagement with customers.   

It’s best practice to still pay participants who had to stop the research activity or leave part way should still be paid.   

How to communicate payment information

Inform participants before research commences   

  • Why / not payment is offered  

  • Form of payment  

  • How payment is made  

  • When payment is made  

Pay participants after the research activity  

  • Pay within 24 hours of completing research  

Confirm payment   

  • Tell participants once the payment is made, including that they need to declare the payment as income   

  • Request acknowledgment of receipt   

  • Record gift card / bank transfer reference (if applicable)  

Maintaining privacy 

If you are handling and storing personal customer information, you must comply with privacy and data security rules which includes complying with the Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998 and Health Records and Information Privacy Act 2002.  

Minimise the need to handle and store personally identifiable information about your participants, including about their abilities and financial information. Ensure you de-identify datasets.  

Department of Customer Service staff can access the Customer Service - Information management policies and guidelines on the intranet. 

 

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