Being Paid Fairly
The Australian work system can be confusing to newcomers. The important thing for all migrants to understand is that regardless of their citizenship status, they have exactly the same worker’s rights as everybody else.
It is important to understand the working rights that you have in Australia – particularly if you have never worked in Australia before. The most fundamental right of all is to be fairly paid.
The minimum wage within Australia is currently $18.29 per hour. It is possible that you are entitled to more than that depending on your working status. Each occupation is governed by an employment award that states the hourly rate. Casual employees are entitled to higher wages than permanent employees but on the flip side are not entitled to the benefits attached to permanent employment – benefits such as annual leave, sick leave and long service leave.
The differences between full, part time and casual work
It is important to understand the distinctions between the different types of employment that you may be engaged in as it will affect the terms and conditions of your work.
Full time workers are required to work a full working week of 38 hours per week. Workers may be asked to work reasonable amounts of overtime and be paid accordingly.
Part time workers are engaged to work set working hours below a total of 38 hours per week. They are entitled to all the benefits of a full time worker on what is known as a pro rata basis meaning that benefits are calculated on a proportional basis.
Casual workers are employed on a needs only basis – this means that they are not guaranteed any working hours, nor are they entitled to any benefits such as annual leave or paid public holidays. They are paid a casual loading to partially compensate for this.
An Award Wage is the Minimum Wage
All workers in all industries are covered by what is known as an award – a set of agreed conditions of employment in that industry. Among other things, the award details what the minimum wage should be in that industry. Many workers who have signed individual contracts earn more than award wages. At no time should an individual contract make a worker worse off than what they would be if they were working in accordance with the award. This is an important requirement for employers to demonstrate when applying for a Temporary Skills Shortage Visa (TSS) on behalf of an overseas worker.
A good habit to get into is to keep all records associated with your employment. This means all relevant correspondence as well as pay slips. It also helps to keep your own work diary of the hours you work – just in case there is a dispute.
The Fairwork Ombudsman Is There to Help You
If in doubt about your entitlements at any time you can visit the Fairwork Australia website to understand your entitlements.
The Australian work system is quite complex and there are many checks and procedures designed to protect the worker from harm and exploitation.
One of the key protective elements in the system is the office of the Fair Work Ombudsman. This body has been set up to help workers to be treated fairly in regard to their working rights and entitlements. If you need assistance from them you can contact them by visiting their website at www.fairworkaustralia.gov.au. If required, you can access help from them in your own language.
Appropriate wagers for overseas workers is a constant issue in Australia’s temporary work system so it is important you have as you begin and further develop your career in Australia.