Your pay and conditions are normally determined by an Employment Contract, and an Award or Enterprise Agreement.
An Employment Contract is a legal document that sets out the terms and condition of employment between an employer and an individual employee. A contract can be written – such as a document that you sign, but it can also be verbal.
An Employment Contract cannot provide for less than the legal minimum pay and conditions set out in Awards or Enterprise Agreements. For example, if your Award says that you must be paid a minimum of $19 per hour, an Employment Contract cannot say that you will be paid $16 per hour. Conditions means things like how often you are entitled to take breaks, or how much personal leave a permanent employee can take.
Awards are a legal document that sets out the minimum working conditions, rates of pay, leave, and other rights such as meal breaks, for each industry or type of work. There is an Award for every type of job in Australia and all workers can be covered by an Award.
No matter what, you cannot be paid less than the award - even if you are under 21, a student, or working on a visa. You cannot receive less than anything set out in the award. For example, if your Award says you are entitled to 200% penalty rates of the minimum wage on Sundays, you cannot be paid less than this. This also applies to other entitlements, such as length of shifts, holidays and sick leave, and overtime.
An Enterprise Agreement is a legal document that sets out the conditions and pay for all workers at a particular workplace of business. Enterprise Agreements are registered with the Fair Work Commission and replace the Award. However, the conditions and pay in the Enterprise Agreement must be better than the conditions and pay in the Award – you cannot be given less than what is stated in the Award without receiving something better in return. You still cannot be paid less than the minimum wage.
These agreements are negotiated between workers in unions and the employer, and are voted on by the workers at that business. An employer cannot force workers to vote yes to an Agreement.
How can I find my Award or Enterprise Agreement?
Before starting work, your employer should have told you what Award or Enterprise Agreement you would be covered by – for example, by telling you verbally or writing it down in your employment contract or Letter of Offer/Engagement.
However, if you don’t know what your Award or Enterprise Agreement is, get in touch with us, but the best way to find out is to ask your employer!
If you are covered by an Enterprise Agreement, or a Modern Award, your employer should keep a paper copy in an easily available place, such as the office. You can find a digital copy of your Enterprise Agreement or Modern Award by searching your employer’s business name on the Fair Work Commission website.
You can find out about what your minimum pay and conditions should be by looking at the Award or Enterprise Agreement. These documents have pay scales which determine how much different employees should be paid – these are normally towards the end of the document.
What do I do if I think I am not getting what I am entitled to?
If you have questions about your Award or Agreement, or if you think you are not getting what you are entitled to, get in touch with us. We can give you advice about what your entitlements are, and help you decide what to do. We can also direct you to other people who can help.
Authorised by M Harrison for UnionsACT, 11 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601.