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5 Things to Know about Your Employment-Related Rights In Australia

Updated: Aug 26, 2021

Photo Courtesy: Courtney Cook collected from Unsplash

If an employer hires you to carry out work under an agreed employment contract, you are considered to be an employee. As an employee, you have various rights which are designed to keep you safe while you are at work. Those are also created to ensure that you are paid correctly. To make sure that you get all your entitlements as an employee, you must understand your rights. In this article, I am discussing the things you need to know about your rights as an employee in Australia -

1. What is an employment contract?

An employment contract is an agreement between the employer and the employee setting out the terms of the employment. It also includes the condition of work.

An employment contract should include the following:

  • Duties of the employee;

  • How many hours the employee will work;

  • How many days the employee will work;

  • The place where the employee will work;

  • How much the employee will be paid;

  • Whether the employee is hired for full time or part-time, permanent or casual basis;

  • Employment conditions of the employee including leave and other entitlements.

Before signing an employment contract, you should read it carefully. Once you sign it, it will be legally binding on both parties. When you sign an employment contract please make sure to keep a copy of the contract that you have signed.

2. What are your basic rights and entitlements as an employee?

As an employee, you have various rights and entitlements. You will have the basic rights even if they are not incorporated in your employment contract. The basic rights of all the employees of Victoria include:

  • minimum rates of pay

  • minimum employment conditions

  • workplace safety

  • not being harassed or discriminated against.

In Victoria, The Occupational Health and Safety Act, 2004 entitles all employees to three fundamental rights:

  • The right to know about health and safety matters.

  • The right to participate in decisions that could affect their health and safety.

  • The right to refuse work that could affect their health and safety and that of others.

3. What are the minimum rates of pay?

In Victoria, the law specifies the minimum rates of pay for all employees. Under your employment contract or agreement, you may get a higher rate of pay. However, your employer is not allowed to give you less than the minimum rate for your job and classification.

To check what your minimum payment should be, please visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website or contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94. The Fair Work Ombudsman has the power to make your employers pay the minimum wages and your other entitlements.

The Fair Work Commission has made the modern award under the national workplace relations system. Those awards were commenced on 1 January 2010 and reviewed every four years. Those awards set out the minimum conditions of employment and pay for the employees in a particular industry or occupation. Your workplace may be covered by more than one such award depending on the types of work involved. For example, there could be one award applying to the office staff and another for the manufacturing staff. The modern awards provide a safety net of employment conditions together with the National Employment Standards.

If you are covered by an award you can work out your base pay rates, allowances, overtime, and penalty rates of pay per hour using Fair Work Ombudsman's Pay Calculator.

4. What is workplace safety?

Everyone has the right to have a healthy and safe workplace. According to Victorian laws, the employers and the employees are jointly responsible for healthy and safe workplaces. That means both you and your employer must ensure that your workplace is safe and without risks to your health or the health of your co-workers.

The workplace safety rules require you to follow the following measures to keep everyone safe:

  • You should always take reasonable care to ensure that you do not hurt yourself or others while performing your duties:

  • If you find any equipment is unsafe at your workplace, you should report the authorities and inform the co-workers without any delay;

  • You should not behave in a way that could put others in danger, such as playing a practical joke that might cause harm to someone.

WorkSafe Victoria manages the state’s workplace safety system. If your employer fails to provide you with a safe workplace, you can make a complaint to WorkSafe. They may investigate your complaint or concerns. WorkSafe is empowered to take a range of measures including issuing a compliance notice or enforcement order or prosecuting employers and individuals.

5. What is unfair dismissal?

If you think that your dismissal from the job was harsh, unjust or unreasonable, you might have a claim for unfair dismissal. When an employee is dismissed from his/her job by the employer in a harsh, unjust or unreasonable manner, it is called an unfair dismissal.

You should lodge a claim of unfair dismissal with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of the termination of employment. The Fair Work Commission may consider that you have unfairly dismissed if the termination of your employment satisfies the following components:

  • Your employment was dismissed;

  • the dismissal was harsh, unjust or unreasonable;

  • the dismissal was not a case of genuine redundancy;

  • you have worked for a small business and your dismissal was not conducted according to the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code.

If the Fair Work Commission decides that you were unfairly dismissed, he/she may order the employer to:

  • reinstate you to the same or an equivalent position;

  • reinstate you and move you to a different part of the organisation;

  • pay for lost wages between the date of termination and reinstatement;

  • compensate you instead of getting your job back. The Commission may order this if another employee is hired since your dismissal or where it is otherwise inappropriate to reinstate your job.

If you need more information on your employment rights or need to find a legal service relating to your employment please visit us at or call us at +61418631798 or email us at We will listen to your problem, find out your legal issues and connect you to the best legal service providers who can help you to solve your problem. We are here to make your legal journey easier.

Please note that this article is intended to give you information about your rights relating to your employment. Please do not consider it as legal advice.


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