Having a job entitles you to certain rights and conditions as well as a pay-packet and the other rewards (and responsibilities) of paid work. Legal documents known as awards or agreements set out the rights and conditions of each workplace, including:

  • the minimum hourly rates of pay for particular roles
  • any additional hourly rates paid for work at night or on weekends and public holidays
  • the minimum number of hours employees will be required to work per shift /day
  • pay cycles (dates when employees will be paid e.g. every second Friday)
  • superannuation entitlements.

When you’re looking for work, research or ask employers which award or agreement will apply to you. It makes sense to have all relevant information before you sign on to start a new job. Most employers do the right thing by their employees but unfortunately, a few don’t.

5 warning signs

1. You should not be asked to work for free – unpaid work trials are generally against the law.

2. You should be paid for all hours you work, including meetings or training and the time you spend opening and closing the business.

3. Not being given a pay slip. You should get a pay slip within one day of being paid.

4. You should generally start and finish your shift at the rostered time no matter how busy or quiet it is, unless you and your employer agree otherwise.

5. Being given goods or services (including food) instead of pay.

3 places to research your employment rights

1. Download the ‘Best Practice Guide: A guide for young workers’ (PDF 387KB)

2. Visit the Fair Work website.

3. Take a look at ‘My employment checklist’ (PDF 150KB) before you start a new job.

Don’t forget superannuation

• See the Australian Taxation Office’s brochure ‘Super: What you need to know’ (PDF 448KB)

• Visit the superannuation section of the Australian Taxation Office’s website.

Where to get help

Job Watch – an employment rights legal centre

• Fair Work Infoline

• A Community Legal Centre in your area.