Congrats - getting a new job is exciting! Make sure your contract of employment is clear and that you understand your entitlements. It's best to get your contract in writing (this could be a letter). Here's some questions you can ask your employer.
Are you full-time, part-time or casual?
Your employment type will determine what you get paid and whether or not you have entitlements to leave and ongoing work with defined hours.
Casual: no paid leave entitlements, no guaranteed hours, no ongoing employment but paid an extra 25% per hour.
Full-time: maximum 38 hours per week (plus reasonable), paid leave entitlements, either ongoing employment or employment that ends on a defined date (e.g. a 6 month contract).
Part-time: an agreed and regular number of hours less than full-time, paid leave entitlements (a proportion of full-time entitlements), either ongoing employment or employment that ends on a defined date (e.g. a 6 month contract).
If you're not sure what type of employee you are, ask your employer: it's important and they will need to be clear - and get it in writing. If you are full-time or part-time, make sure you understand whether or not your employment is ongoing (no defined end date) or for a defined period.
What is your Award or Agreement?
Your job will most likely be 'covered' by an Award or Agreement. This is the legal contract that sets out the minimum entitlements (also called "conditions") that apply to all employees who are doing the same work. You may get paid more and get better conditions than the Award but you can't get less! Ask your employer which Award or Agreement you are paid under - they must know in order to pay you correctly and to make sure you are getting all your entitlements.
It's really important that you know which Award or Agreement applies to you - that's how you know what you should be paid and what the rules are about hours, uniforms and other conditions.
How much will you be paid?
The minimum adult wage in Australia from 1 July 2020 is $19.84 per hour but for workers under the age of 21 or who are apprentices or trainees, your Award may provide for a lower hourly rate called a "junior" or "apprentice/trainee" rate. If you are paid a "junior rate", your pay will increase every year on your birthday until you are paid the adult wage - this may be when you are 20 or 21, depending on the Award. You can only be paid as an apprentice or trainee if the job is genuinely an apprenticeship or trainee-ship. Check out our fact sheets for apprentices and trainees to find out more.
Rates of pay in awards and agreements will depend on your role, duties, age, experience and qualifications. Higher level work will get paid at higher rates. Minimum rates of pay increase from 1 July each year.
On weekends, evenings, and on public holidays, your rates should be higher. Overtime work is paid at a higher rate too. Check out our fact sheets on penalty rates and overtime. For some workers, such as those in hospitality, there are additional payments for working evenings/ past midnight. If in doubt, ask us!
To make sure your rate is correct, get in touch with the Young Workers Advice Service: firstname.lastname@example.org
How and when will you be paid?
You should be paid regularly on a predictable date and you must receive a pay slip within one day of being paid.
Your employer can pay you in cash, cheque or by bank transfer. Even if you are paid in cash, your employer must still deduct tax and pay superannuation contributions on your behalf (if you're entitled to superannuation contributions).
Pay slips are very important. You can check your pay slip to make sure that your employer is doing the right thing - and pay slips are important evidence if you suspect or discover that you are not being paid correctly. Your employer is also required to keep detailed records including your hours, what you have been paid, tax, superannuation etc. You can ask to have a look at or get a copy of records about you.
Is there a probation period?
If you are full time or part-time, there may a probation period - this is the period of time (e.g. 3 months) when rules restricting dismissal of an employee don't apply. Probation periods are supposed to give the employer an opportunity to assess your suitability for ongoing employment. During a probation period you must receive training, support and feedback about your work and you must be paid your normal rate. If your employer has a problem with your work, they have to raise it with you as early as possible and give you an opportunity to fix it. Casual jobs shouldn't have probation periods.
When will you be working and how much notice of change of shifts will you get?
It's reasonable to ask your employer about how many hours you will work, when you will ordinarily work, how often the roster is published and how much notice you will get of changes. Always keep a copy of your roster - it may be important evidence later on if you have issues with pay and hours. If you're not sure whether your roster is okay or you think you are being treated unfairly with your hours, get in touch with the Young Workers Advice Service and we can help.
What uniform will you need?
For some jobs you need "special clothing" i.e. a particular uniform or protective clothing. In most cases, you can't be required to pay for your uniform, protective clothing and equipment. Providing these, or reimbursing you for the cost, is the responsibility of the employer.
It's a bit different if you're just required to wear all black, for example - in that case, you can reasonably be required to wear your own clothes. But if you are supposed to wear company branded or designed uniform, or something that you wouldn't reasonably already own, that should be provided for you - or your employer should reimburse you the cost of buying it. In some cases, you will also get an allowance from the employer to help cover the cost of cleaning and repairing the uniform.
Your employer can't require you to pay a deposit for your uniform. The exact rules depend on which Award or Agreement you are covered by, so get in touch and we'll help you work it out: email@example.com
You've probably got lots more questions. Just ask us - we can answer them. It's free and confidential: firstname.lastname@example.org
Authorised by M Harrison for UnionsACT, 11 London Circuit, Canberra ACT 2601.