Glossary & Acronyms

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An action taken by an employer, employee, contractor or industrial association, which may be unlawful depending on the reason for the action. For example dismissing an employee for taking industrial action.

An all purpose allowance is an allowance that is added to an employees’ hourly rate.

Additional payment made to employees for doing certain tasks, working in certain locations, using a special skill or for expenses incurred for doing their job.

Annual leave allows an employee to be paid while having time off from work. Other known term: holiday pay.

Annual leave loading is an additional amount that’s paid to some employees when they take annual leave. This doesn’t apply to all employees and depends on what the award or registered agreement says. Other known term: leave loading.

A review made by the Fair Work Commission on the national minimum wage and pay rates in awards. Any changes that are made begin on the first full pay period on or after 1 July.

An apprentice is an employee who learns their trade or profession while working for an employer under a special training contract.

A formal legal process conducted by the Fair Work Commission for workplace disputes. It involves hearing witnesses and considering evidence. The Commission then issues a final and legally-binding decision.

Associated entities are businesses or other bodies that are connected to each other in some way. For example, when 1 business owns or controls the other business for the purpose of a transfer of business. Section 50AAA of the Corporations Act provides a full definition.

An award is a legal document that outlines the wages and conditions of employment for employees that are covered by it within a particular industry or occupation. Other known term: modern award.

Types of employees who are not covered by an award or a registered agreement.

The minimum pay rate an employee is entitled to under an award.

A process when a business can’t pay their debts.

The minimum hourly pay rate an employee is entitled to for their ordinary hours of work.

A test the Fair Work Commission uses to assess registered agreements against awards. The registered agreement is compared to the relevant award to ensure the employee is better off overall under the registered agreement in order for it to be approved.

A time during a shift that an employee is given to stop work. It can be either paid or unpaid depending on the type of break taken. Other known terms: tea break, meal break and rest break.

Bullying at work happens when a person, or group of people, repeatedly behave unreasonably towards another worker or group of workers. This behaviour creates a risk to health and safety.

Paid or unpaid leave for employees who need to take time off from work to care for an immediate family or household member who’s sick, injured or has an unexpected emergency.

The process of an employee changing from casual to full-time or part-time employment.

An employee who accepts an offer for a job from an employer knowing that there is no firm advance commitment to ongoing work with an agreed pattern of work.

A document with information about employment conditions that an employer has to provide to all casual employees.

An additional amount paid on top of the base pay rate to casual employees.

A description of a job role in an award or registered agreement. It usually outlines the duties, responsibilities and qualifications for an employee. Classification levels affect minimum pay rates. As well as the duties of the job role, an employee’s classification may depend on their qualifications and experience levels. For example, an employee might need to hold a diploma or certificate, or have a certain amount of experience before they can progress to the next level.

The name of legislation (laws) introducing changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 and other workplace laws.

Pressuring someone to do or not do something through intimidation, force or threats.

A payment made to an employee based on how much they sell.

A type of leave taken to participate in community service activities such as jury duty and voluntary emergency services.

Leave taken when a member of an employee’s immediate family or household is seriously ill or dies. Other known term: bereavement leave.

A conciliation is a confidential and less formal dispute resolution process between the parties to a workplace dispute at the Fair Work Commission.

A financial or trading corporation formed in Australia or a foreign corporation. A business is usually a constitutional corporation if it has ‘Pty Ltd’ or ‘Ltd’ within its business name.

A constitutionally covered business is a proprietary limited company, a foreign corporation, a trading or financial corporation formed within the limits of the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth, the Commonwealth authority, a body corporate incorporated in a territory, a business or organisation conducted principally in a territory or Commonwealth place. It does not include sole traders, partnerships, some state government employees, corporations whose main activity is not trading or financial.

Where an employee quits but was forced to do so because of the conduct of their employer.

The total length of time that an employee has been working for an employer.

A group of workers and businesses that work on the same task or service. Also known as a ‘supply chain’.

The failure to comply with an obligation within the Fair Work Act 2009, awards or registered agreements. Other known term: breach.

A coverage clause can be found in an award or registered agreement. It describes what types of employees and employers are covered by the award or registered agreement.

Employees who work either full-time or part-time hours but are only entitled to 1 days notice of termination are daily hire employees. This can only happen if the award or registered agreement allows for daily hire employees.

A person who lives with the employee in a relationship as a couple on a genuine domestic basis but isn’t married to the employee. The person can be: of the same sex or different sex to the employee, or a current or former de facto partner of the employee.

An online service (such as app or website) that arranges for or helps facilitate work to be completed. For example, the delivery of food.

Work performed by an independent contractor under a services contract with, arranged or facilitated by a digital labour platform where payment is made for that work.

When someone is not treated fairly or given the same opportunities because of their race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer's responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction, social origin, breastfeeding, gender identity, intersex status, or subjection to family and domestic violence.

A person that’s hired to provide a service to a company either on a full-time, part-time or casual basis in exchange for payment. Other known terms: staff and worker.

An independent contractor whose work demonstrates certain prescribed employee-like characteristics.

An organisation for employers that is set up to help protect the interest of its members. There are many different types of employer associations available to an employer based on the industry the employer is in.

Employment is the relationship between an employee and employer where an employee performs work at the employer’s direction in exchange for payment.

An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and employee that sets out terms and conditions of employment. A contract can be in writing or verbal. Other known term: contract of employment.

A direction made by a state or territory government setting requirements and restrictions on businesses. This can include restrictions and requirements on physical distancing and density requirements, limits and restrictions on operations and risk management requirements. Enforceable government directions are mandatory and there may be penalties for not complying with any that apply to a business.

An enterprise agreement sets out minimum employment conditions and can apply to one business or a group of businesses.

An enterprise award is an award that applies to one or more businesses and its employees.

The process of negotiation generally between the employer, employees and their bargaining representatives with the goal of making an enterprise agreement.

Introduced by the Fair Work Commission to resolve the issue of pay gaps between certain types of employees that are covered by the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award.

The FEG is a payment scheme that helps employees who have lost their job because their employer has gone into liquidation or is declared bankrupt. Employees can claim certain entitlements that their employer can’t pay. Previously known as: General Employee Entitlements and Redundancy Scheme (GEERS).

An independent Australian Government agency created by the Fair Work Act 2009 whose role includes making and varying awards, approving registered agreements, setting minimum wages, dealing with a range of disputes (including unfair dismissal claims), and regulating registered organisations. Previously known as: Fair Work Australia.

A document with information about workplace laws that an employer has to provide to all new employees.

An independent Australian Government agency created by the Fair Work Act 2009, whose role is to promote harmonious, productive and cooperative workplace relations and ensure compliance with Australian workplace laws. Other known term: Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

A national workplace relations system introduced by the Fair Work Act 2009 that provides for the minimum employment standards and regulates on a range of employment and industrial matters.

A contract of employment that terminates at the end of a set period (for example, the contract ends on a set date, or after a set period of time or season).

An employee employed under a contract that terminates at the end of a set period (for example, the contract ends on a set date, or after a set period of time or season).

A document with information about fixed term employment that an employer must provide to all new fixed term contract employees.

An arrangement that allows an employee to request to change their work hours, frequency of work or location of employment.

A business arrangement that allows an individual, partnership or company to operate under the name of an already established business.

An individual, partnership or company that operates under the name of an already established business.

The owner of a brand or trademark who allows a person to earn money by using the brand or trademark, or the reputation of the brand, in running a business.

An employee engaged to work 38 hours per week (some awards and registered agreements may state more or less than 38 hours of work) on an ongoing basis and who receives benefits like paid leave and notice of termination.

A set of rights under the Fair Work Act 2009 that cover all employees under the national workplace relations system.

The total amount an employee earns before tax and other deductions are taken out.

A written arrangement that allows an employer to pay an employee the high income threshold or higher, over 12 months or more. The employee will not receive entitlements from a relevant award.

The amount of money earned by an employee before the relevant award stops applying to them. The high income threshold changes each year.

A spouse or former spouse, de facto partner or former de facto partner, child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of an employee, or a child, parent, grandparent, grandchild or sibling of an employee’s spouse or de facto partner. It includes step-relations (eg. step-parents and step-children) as well as adoptive relations.

Severe weather condition that makes it unsafe or unreasonable for an employee to work. Other known term: severe weather.

A person who provides services to another person or business and isn’t employed by that person or business. Independent contractors usually negotiate their own fees and working arrangements and can work for more than one client at a time. Other known terms: subcontracting and contractor.

A written agreement used by an employer and employee to change the effect of certain clauses in their award or registered agreement – making alternative arrangements that better suit the needs of the employer and employee. Other known term: flexibility term.

Industrial action is taken when an employer or employee try to settle a workplace dispute. This may include not going to work and refusing to perform work.

When a business is running with more liability that exceeds their assets.

A method of on-the-job training with a company. The intern is not paid as long as the person isn’t actually in an employment relationship.

An order made by the Fair Work Commission to resolve bargaining disputes where there isn’t any reasonable prospect of agreement being reached if the Commission doesn’t act.

A minimum pay rate that applies to a junior employee as defined in the relevant award or registered agreement. The rate is usually a percentage of the wage that applies to an adult employee.

A business that has contracts with other businesses to provide them with workers.

Someone employed by a labour hire agency (also called a staffing agency or employment agency). The agency can hire the worker out to a host. The worker has a contract with the agency, not with the host.

A tool offered by us to help employees and employers calculate how much leave an employee is entitled to.

A set of laws.

A process of a person, called a liquidator, taking control of a company and selling its assets.

A period of paid leave that is available to employees who have worked for the same business for a period of time. The length of time would depend on the employee’s award or registered agreement.

An employee whose been employed by the same employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months.

A voluntary and confidential process where a mediator helps parties negotiate with each other to resolve workplace complaints.

A wage in an award or registered agreement that sets out the minimum amount of money an employee has to receive for work performed.

Miscarriage is the spontaneous loss of an embryo or foetus before 20 weeks of pregnancy.

The standard transitional provisions that appear in most modern awards.

Modern awards are industrial instruments that set out minimum conditions including wages, overtime, penalty rates and hours of work. There are 122 awards in the Fair Work system that covers employers and employees in a particular industry or occupation. Other known term: award.

An agreement that sets out minimum employment conditions applying to multiple and related businesses or employers.

A federal agreement created on 27 March 2006 preserving the conditions in a State award and / or state legislation from NSW, Queensland, South Australia or Tasmania. Modern awards replaced NAPSAs on 1 January 2010. Other known term: Notional agreement preserving state award.

The minimum entitlements that have to be provided to all employees.

A pay rate that applies to employees not covered by an award or registered agreement. Certain award or agreement free employees may have different pay entitlements depending on whether they have a reduced work capacity because of disability, if they're under the age of 21 or if they are an apprentice or trainee.

The national workplace relations system is a collection of legislation that applies to most employees and employers in Australia. It includes the Fair Work Act 2009, the National Employment Standards, registered agreements and awards.

Businesses that are sole traders, partnerships or other unincorporated organisations.

A non-small business employer is an employer with 15 or more employees at a particular time. When counting the number of employees, employees of associated entities of the employer are included. Casual employees aren’t included unless they’re engaged on a regular and systematic basis.

When a business employs workers and provides a service to other organisations (host organisations) by assigning those workers to perform work for that host organisation.

The amount of hours worked by an employee that doesn’t include overtime. For example, the ordinary hours of a full-time employee are usually 38 hours per week.

The amount of money an employee would get for the hours worked. This does not include any additional overtime payment.

Contractors or employees who perform their work at home or at a place that wouldn’t normally be thought of as a business premise. A common type of outworker is a contractor in the textile, clothing or footwear industry who works at home.

The time worked outside of ordinary hours. Awards and registered agreements will state when overtime can be worked and the rate of pay for working overtime.

A payment scheme offered by the Australian Government for when an employee goes on leave to have a baby or adopt. Employees can get paid directly from the Australian Government or their employer. Other known term: employer funded paid parental leave.

Employees can take 12 months unpaid leave when a child is born or adopted. Other known terms: maternity or paternity leave, adoption leave and dad and partner leave.

An employee who works regular hours that are less than a full-time employee.

When a bargaining representative is representing more than one proposed enterprise agreement and tries to find common terms to include in all agreements.

A document that ensures that employees receive their correct pay and entitlements and help employers to keep accurate and complete records. Employers must give a pay slip to each of their employees within one working day of pay day, even if an employee is on leave.

A higher pay rate that can apply when an employee works evenings, weekends or public holidays. These rates are provided in awards and registered agreements.

A deduction from an employee’s pay which is allowed under the Fair Work Act 2009.

Matters that can be included in an enterprise agreement. Permitted matters could include terms about the relationship between an employer and the employees, deductions from wages or agreements about how the agreement will operate.

Paid leave taken when an employee can’t go to work because they are ill or injured. Other known term: sick leave.

An employee who is paid based on the number of things they make or number of tasks they complete instead of time spent performing the job.

A term used by the Fair Work Ombudsman to refer to awards that existed before 1 January 2010. It includes award-based transitional instruments and transitional minimum wage instruments.

An award made before 27 March 2006. After 1 July 2009, pre reform awards became an award based transitional instrument.

A person or company that engages an independent contractor to perform work.

A proportionate amount of money or period of time. Part-time employees generally get pro-rata entitlements, based on the number of hours worked.

A length of time used to assess if the employee is suitable for the job. Probation periods are often 3-6 months long. Other known term: probationary period.

A secret vote by eligible employees on whether they want to take industrial action. This action is usually about the terms of a proposed enterprise agreement.

Attributes or characteristics of a person that are protected from workplace discrimination. For example, age, religion, or social origin.

The name of legislation (laws) introducing changes to the Fair Work Act 2009.

An order made by a state or territory government, such as requiring certain workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19. Employers and workers need to comply with any public health orders that apply to them.

Days specified in the Fair Work Act 2009, as well as any other day or part-day prescribed by the State or Territory law.

A government organisation involved in emergency or natural disaster activities. For example, the State Emergency Service (SES) or Country Fire Authority (CFA).

Recording and maintaining mandatory employment information, such as hours of work and wages paid.

When an employee is terminated because the employer no longer requires that job to be done by anyone, except in cases of ordinary and customary turnover of staff. Other known terms: retrenchment and severance pay.

A decision of the Fair Work Commission to reduce the amount of redundancy an employer has to pay.

A State which has handed over, or referred its workplace relations powers to the Commonwealth (ie. all states except WA).

A document between an employer and their employees covering employment conditions. A registered agreement must be approved by and registered with the Fair Work Commission. Examples of registered agreements include enterprise agreements (including single and multi-enterprise) and greenfields agreements.

A regulated road transport contractor is an independent contractor in the road transport industry who meets set criteria.

An employee-like worker or a regulated road transport contractor.

The right an employee has to return to the same position they held before taking parental leave.

The ability for a permit holder to enter a work site. Permit holders are often union officials.

A certificate issued by the Fair Work Commission allowing an entry permit holder to forgo giving an employer the required notice for a right of entry visit.

A timetable showing the days and times employees are expected to attend work.

A day in a roster period that an employee doesn’t have to work. An employee’s day off can be paid or unpaid, depending on the award or registered agreement.

An agreement to be paid a specified amount of pay for work over a 12 month period. They are often included in employment contracts. Other known term: annualised salary.

The name of legislation (laws) introducing changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 and other existing laws.

A serious contravention happens when a court finds that a person or business knew they were contravening an obligation under workplace laws, or were reckless as to whether the contravention would occur.

Serious misconduct involves an employee deliberately behaving in a way that is inconsistent with continuing their employment. Examples include: causing serious and imminent risk to the health and safety of another person or to the reputation or profits of their employer’s business, theft, fraud, assault, sexual harassment or refusing to carry out a lawful and reasonable instruction that is part of the job. Other known term: misconduct.

Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance or request for sexual favours to another person, and other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another person. Examples might include unwelcome touching, staring or leering, or a suggestive comment or joke. To be sexual harassment, it has to be reasonable to expect that there is a possibility that the person being harassed would be offended, humiliated or intimidated by the behaviour.

Where an employer represents to a worker that an employment relationship is an independent contracting arrangement when the employer doesn’t reasonably believe this.

An employee who works fixed hours of work (eg. shifts or rosters) that are outside or partly outside of normal working hours (eg. 9am – 5pm). Awards and registered agreements often provide a specific definition of shiftworker.

A shutdown is when a business temporarily closes, such as Christmas and New Year.

An enterprise agreement that sets out minimum employment conditions applying to a single employer, or closely related employers.

A small business employer is an employer with fewer than 15 employees at a particular time. If an employer has 15 or more employees at a particular time, they are no longer a small business employer. When counting the number of employees, employees of associated entities of the employer are included. Casual employees are not included unless engaged on a regular and systematic basis.

An individual who runs his or her own business as an individual, rather than through a partnership or company.

A pregnant employee who is eligible for unpaid parental leave can take unpaid special parental leave if they're unfit for work because they: are pregnant and have a pregnancy-related illness, or have a pregnancy loss after 12 weeks and their baby is not stillborn.

When an employee is told not to go to work by an employer because they cannot be usefully employed due to specified circumstances, including a strike or machinery breakdown. Employees are not paid during a period of stand down.

A pay rate defined in each award, used to calculate some entitlements like overtime and allowances. It is usually the rate for a specified classification (eg. Level 3).

A written statement declared to be true in front of an authorised witness.

A stillbirth is the birth of a baby where the baby weighed at least 400 grams or reached at least 20 weeks gestation but hasn’t breathed or had a heartbeat since their delivery.

An automatic end or termination of a legal document, like a registered agreement, from a certain date. This means the legal document no longer has effect from that date. Also see Zombie agreements.

Money paid by an employer on behalf of an employee into a superannuation fund to provide for the employee’s retirement. Other known term: employer contribution.

An assessed wage system for employees with a disability is based on productivity.

When an employer or employee ends the employment relationship. Other known terms: resignation, quitting, firing and dismissal.

A payment made to the employee when employment ends, which can include notice, redundancy pay, unused annual leave and long service leave. Other known terms: final pay.

An arrangement where an employee is given paid time off work instead of being paid overtime hours allowed under some awards and registered agreements.

An employee who is working towards a qualification (other than a trade qualification) in a particular industry under a formal training contract.

An employee that moves from the old employer to the new employer in a transfer of business.

A type of award that was in force immediately before 1 January 2010. Most of these types of awards have been terminated and replaced by modern awards.

When an employee’s dismissal is harsh, unjust or unreasonable and is not a genuine redundancy.

Where an employee’s employment is ended by their employer for reasons that are discriminatory or against the law.

A term that cannot be lawfully included in an enterprise agreement.

Work performed for no pay, such as a vocational placement, internship or work experience.

A type of visa an employee is on when an employer sponsors their application and allows them to work temporarily in Australia.

When an administrator is appointed to investigate the company’s affairs and recommend whether it should come under administration, wind up or go back to normal operation. This is a process started by a company having financial problems.

A voluntary activity that relates to dealing with an emergency or natural disaster that is run by an emergency management body. Other known term: emergency management activity.

When redundancy is offered by an employer and is voluntarily accepted by an employee.

People who belong to a group which may have a greater risk of vulnerability in understanding and receiving their workplace rights and entitlements.

A compensation system that is run by State and Territory organisations for work-related injuries.

A workplace delegate is an employee appointed or elected under the rules of an employee organisation who represent members of the organisation in the workplace.

A registered agreement made before 2010. These types of agreements automatically terminated from 7 December 2023, unless the agreement was extended.