Starting a job
Congratulations! You’ve found a new job. Here is an outline of your basic rights and requirements as an employee in Australia.
Australian workplace laws provide basic protection and entitlements for all workers in Australia, including workers from overseas. These laws are regulated by federal legislation, workplace agreements, awards and contracts.
Most workers in Australia are protected by the National Employment Standards. You’re also most likely covered by an award or agreement. These are legal documents that set out what your employer needs to give you and what you need to do as an employee. Your award or agreement will tell you things like:
- Your minimum wages.
- If you should get penalty rates (higher pay rates) for working nights, weekends or public holidays.
- The minimum number of hours per shift you can be rostered and paid for.
- If you should get an allowance for doing some tasks.
- Your hours of work, including the meal and rest breaks you should get when you work.
If you’re asked to sign any type of document about your wages and conditions, make sure you read it carefully and understand it before you sign. Also keep a copy for your records. Even if you sign a written contract, you’re still covered by the minimum wages and conditions in the relevant award, agreement and the National Employment Standards. A contract can’t make you worse off than your minimum legal entitlements.
There are a number of online tools to help you find minimum pay rates, penalty rates, allowances, loading and overtime rates for a range of jobs.
Before you start work, you need to get a tax file number (TFN) to avoid large amounts of tax being deducted from your wages.
Once employed, your employer pays any tax you have to pay on your wages, to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). A Medicare Levy of 1.5% of your gross wages is also added to the tax that you pay.
At the end of the financial year (30 June) you must file a tax return to the ATO which you can do online. If you do not file a tax return you may end up paying an unnecessary tax bill or be fined for non-compliance. Using a tax agent is relatively inexpensive and can help you get the maximum return of your tax.
Superannuation or ‘super’ is saving money for when you retire. Once you are earning more than $350 per month, your employer is legally required to deposit an extra 9.5 per cent of your wage into your superannuation fund. You can also make voluntary contributions from your pay or savings to increase your super. Your money is invested by your super fund to make it grow over time, so that you can have extra money to enjoy your retirement.