Your Rights at Work

It's important to have a decent understanding of your entitlements as an employee in general, as well as in the specific milieu of work under which your job is categorised.

Tax File Number
If this is your first paid job, you’ll usually be asked by your employer to provide your Tax File Number (TFN). A TFN is a personal number for an individual which allows the Australian Government to administer tax. To apply for a TFN, visit the Australia Taxation Office website. The application form can be obtained in a number of ways:

• By ordering it online
• By calling 1300 720 092
• By picking one up from a tax office shopfront or selected newsagents; or
• By requesting one from Centrelink or the Department of Veterans' Affairs

A union represents employees at work, and are usually defined by the particular types of employment they represent. Unions provide employees with advice on workplace negotiations, or develop awards or agreements to determine your wages and rights at work. All employees have the choice of joining or of not joining a union.

Ending Employment
If you need to stop working for any reason, you should check your award or agreement (if you’re on one) to see how much notice you need to give your employer. It’s usually regarded that two week’s notice is the norm for letting your employer know that you will no longer be working.

Termination of Employment
If you are dismissed from employment, it may be because you have behaved improperly, refused to follow instructions, or acted dishonestly. Your employer has the right to dismiss you without notice if any of these have happened. You may be given warnings about your behaviour, and be told to improve as an employee. Take these seriously, because the ‘three strikes and your out’ rule doesn’t always apply. You cannot be dismissed because of your age, race, sex, sexual preference, disability or for filing a complaint against your employer for breaching law.

If you are dismissed in the first 6 months of employment (12 months of employment for a small business employer), you cannot access unfair dismissal laws. Once you have worked over these times, you have a right to lodge a complaint with Fair Work Australia if you feel you have been unfairly dismissed.

Note: a small business employer is defined as an employer with less than 15 full-time employees at the time of dismissal.

Types of work

Full time: generally 38 hrs/week, receive annual leave and long service leave, access to paid leave (be it sick leave or holiday leave), guaranteed shifts/hours, receive wages, agreements, etc. as set out in contract

Part-time: regular number of working hrs/week, receive hourly rate of pay, guaranteed shifts/hours, pro rata (means ‘in proportion’ to your working hours) entitlements like annual sick leave

Casual: flexible working hrs/week, receive hourly rate of pay, may receive higher hourly pay because causal works don’t receive annual/sick leave, etc.

Minimum Wage
The current minimum wage is $15/hour (before tax), regardless of whether you are on an award or agreement.