Minimum Wage

Every worker is entitled to at least a minimum wage.

Young Workers Advice Service Team avatar
Written by Young Workers Advice Service Team
Updated over a week ago

For over 100 years, Australia has had laws that set a minimum rate of pay for all workers. This minimum rate of pay is legally enforceable.

The minimum wage is a ‘base rate of pay’. It does not include any additional amounts that a worker might be entitled to such as bonuses, allowances, penalty rates for working overtime, shift work, weekends, or public holidays. 

The minimum wage rate is set by the Fair Work Commission, and is reviewed each year.

Who gets the minimum wage? 

All workers who are over the age of 21 (not getting junior rates) and are not an apprentice or trainee (not getting apprentice or trainee rates) must be paid at least the adult minimum wage. Many workers will be paid more depending on their Award or Enterprise Agreement.

It is illegal for an employer to pay less than the minimum wage. Even if an employee agrees to be paid less, the employer cannot pay them less than the minimum wage. 

Minimum wage is set by the relevant Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement. As such, the minimum wage will depend on where you work and how you are classified as an employee.

If you are paid under a Modern Award or an Enterprise Agreement, you must be paid at least this rate, but you may be paid more. We can help you find the right Award or Agreement minimum wage for you if you get in touch with a few details about your employment.

Trainees or apprentices, junior workers (under 21) and workers with a disability will have different minimum wages. You can find out more about Junior and Trainee rates here. And you can find out about Apprentice rates here. 

Should I get more as a casual worker?

Casual workers should receive a further 25% loading on top of the minimum wage. This is to compensate for not receiving the same entitlements that permanent workers receive, such as paid leave.

How do I know if I am being paid the minimum wage? 

You can check if you are being paid at the correct rate by checking your pay slip. Your pay slip should clearly indicate your rate of pay, and whether you are receiving casual loading. Pay slips are a legal requirement.

Scenario 1

Lauren is a 21 year old university student and works as a casual at a restaurant. She checks her pay slip and it says she is being paid $16 per hour. She talks to her manager, Michael, who also owns the restaurant, about it. He says that he cannot afford to pay her $26.72 per hour (national minimum wage plus 25% casual loading) and instead lets her have a free drink every shift to compensate. 

This is not okay. It is illegal to pay workers less than the minimum wage and free food and drink is not a substitute for being paid properly. Lauren should get in touch with the Young Workers Centre to check her Award and make sure she is not supposed to be on a higher rate.

Scenario 2
Jun is a 16 year old student who works as a casual at a fast food restaurant. He is paid $14.61 per hour on weekdays. He is not sure if this is the right rate because it is below the adult minimum wage.

This is okay. Jun is being paid the correct rate for a 16 year old under the Fast Food Industry Award 2010. If Jun works on weekends and public holidays, he must be paid more (see the fact sheet on penalty rates).

What do I do if I think I am not being paid properly? 

To check if you are being paid properly, you can check your pay slip. Your pay slip should clearly state the amount you are being paid, and list any casual loading or penalties you are receiving. See the fact sheet on pay slips for more.

If you think you are not being paid properly, get in touch with us. We can give you advice about what you are entitled to, and help you decide what to do. We can also direct you to other people who can help. Email

To find out more about how to join your union, visit or have a look at our fact sheet here.

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