Shift Work

Find out more about shift-work and shift penalties.

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

Shift workers are workers who do 'shifts' and get an extra payment for doing so. Shift workers normally go to work outside of the normal 9am-5pm work day – such as evening/night shifts, early mornings, or rotating shifts. For example, a nurse who does shift work may start work at 11pm and finish at 7am the next morning. 

This can differ based on the Award or Enterprise Agreement you are covered by. Your Award or Agreement will explain what a shift-worker is, what types of shifts they can do, and how much they will be paid. 

To find out more about how this works in your industry, have a look at the Fair Work Ombudsman website here


Anthony is 21 years old and is a casual food and beverage attendant at a local café. On some weekdays and weekends, he starts work at 6am in order to set up the café before service begins at 7am. He checks his pay slip and sees that he is paid $27 an hour. On the weekends, he is paid $31 an hour on Saturdays, and $36 on Sundays.

This is okay. Anthony is covered by the Restaurant Award, which says that he must be paid at least $26.72 an hour. If he starts work before 6am on a weekday, he should be paid an extra $3.55 an hour. He is being paid the correct penalty rates for working on a Saturday, Sunday, or public holiday. 

Not all employees who work early mornings or late nights are shift-workers. However, you may be entitled to certain shift penalties under your Award or Enterprise Agreement. 

What do I do if I think I am not getting what I am entitled to?  

If you have a question about your entitlements, 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.   

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

Did this answer your question?