Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples

Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws

If your workplace has been impacted by coronavirus, we have information about your workplace rights and obligations at Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws.

A number of temporary changes have been introduced due to coronavirus including:

  • JobKeeper – changes to the Fair Work Act to support the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme
  • temporary award changes – allowing for temporary workplace flexibility in some awards
  • pandemic leave – unpaid and paid pandemic leave (including worker and disaster payments) during coronavirus.
  • These changes may affect the information and resources on this page.

We have information and resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the workplace including:

We also have information for employers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Starting a new job

Starting a new job can be exciting. It can also be a bit scary if you’re not sure what you need to do.


Our guide to starting a new job (DOCX 72.7KB)  (PDF 15.8MB) will help you find all the basic information you need before starting a job, including:

  • how to check you're getting the right pay
  • what awards are and how to find out about your rights and entitlements
  • what should be on your payslip
  • what to do if you have a problem at work.

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Rights and entitlements of employees

All employees get minimum entitlements at work. Read our fact sheets about employee rights on the following topics:

Find out more about minimum entitlements for employees on our National Employment Standards page

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The importance of cultural, family and kinship obligations

Like all employees, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have pressures and responsibilities relating to their home and community life. However, there are some specific cultural issues that employers need to understand, including:

  • the importance of family and kinship ties
  • cultural obligations
  • significant dates and cultural events
  • the need for time away from work for issues such as Sorry Business.

For many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, responsibilities to family, community and culture are extremely important. These responsibilities can sometimes conflict with workplace responsibilities. These are serious issues, which employers should discuss with sensitivity and respect, in order to find a solution that’s best for everyone.

Due to family obligations, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples may have more of a role in caring for children and elderly family members. Care may include financial care, health care and general care. This means Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples may have more responsibility outside their immediate family.

To help employees meet these obligations, employers may need to consider offering flexible work arrangements. You can find more information about flexibility in the workplace on our Flexible working arrangements page.

It’s also important to be aware of significant cultural events and dates, including key events such as:

  • NAIDOC Week
  • Sorry Day
  • National Reconciliation Week
  • local and regional events.

It’s a good idea for employers and employees to discuss these dates. Where possible, employers should encourage and support staff who want to acknowledge and participate in these events.

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Taking time off for Sorry Business

If you need time off work for Sorry Business, you might be able to take it off as compassionate leave. Employees can take compassionate leave when someone in their immediate family or household dies or has a life-threatening illness or injury.

If not, you may have other options available to you, such as annual leave, sick/carer's leave, unpaid leave or time off in lieu.

If you need to take time off work for Sorry Business it’s a good idea to let your employer know as soon as you can.

Check out our Do you need time off for Sorry Business fact sheet (DOCX 61KB) (PDF 5.6MB) and message card (DOCX 56.6KB)  (PDF 2.5MB).

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Sorting out problems at work

Most problems at work happen because people are unsure what the law is, or because employees and employers don’t talk about what’s bothering them.

Watch our video on how to sort out problems at work. It includes tips and guidance on how to talk to your employer.


Check out our guide to fixing workplace problems with your boss (DOCX 74.5KB) (PDF 18MB).

Case study - Trisha’s annual leave

Trisha is planning to visit her community and asks her employer how much annual leave she has. Her employer says she has two weeks annual leave. Trisha thinks there is a problem and checks our leave calculator.

The calculator says that Trisha has three weeks annual leave. She prints the results from the leave calculator, and has a chat to her employer. Her employer checks the records again and says sorry for the mistake.

By talking to her employer in a polite and professional way, Trisha sorted the problem out quickly.

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Ending work

A notice period is the amount of time you may have to give your employer when you leave a job. It’s also the amount of time your employer may need to give you if you’re sacked.

How much notice should you and your employer give each other? Check your:

  • award
  • registered agreement
  • contract of employment.

If you have an award, use our Pay and Conditions Tool.

It’s also a good idea to put your notice in writing. Check out our fact sheet on ending employment (DOCX 56.1KB) (PDF 4.9MB)for more information.

Redundancy is when an employer no longer requires your job to be done by anyone, or when a business becomes bankrupt or insolvent (runs out of money and has to close). Check out our fact sheet on redundancy (DOCX 57.9KB) (PDF 5.1MB) for more information.

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Employer information

Check out the business.gov.au checklist for small business owners external-icon.png for help following Australian laws when hiring employees.

We also have information to help you get the most out of your business and employees:

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