Before starting employment

Find out about your rights, entitlements and responsibilities before you start a new job.

Whether this is your first job, or you’ve been employed before, there are things you need to do and understand before starting employment.

Work through the steps below to help you prepare for your new job. You can also download A guide to starting a new job .

First job

If you are under 21 and you’re looking to start your first job, you should check your state or territory’s rules about the minimum age employees need to be when they start work.

Find out more at What age can I start work?

Visit our Young workers and students page for more information about preparing for your first job.

Unpaid trials

Before starting a new job, you might be asked to perform an unpaid trial shift to be assessed for the position you’ve applied for. This should be made clear before you start the trial.

Find more information at Unpaid trials.

Employee records and documentation

After you’ve accepted the position and before you start your new job, your employer will ask you to provide some personal information which will help them pay your wages correctly, as well as your tax and superannuation.

The information your employer can ask you to provide includes your:

  • full name
  • residential address
  • phone number
  • bank details, so that you can be paid your wages
  • emergency contact details, or your parent or guardian's contact details if you are under 18
  • your date of birth if you are under 21 - so your employer can determine when you are entitled to any relevant pay increases
  • superannuation fund details
  • tax file number.

If your employer hasn’t given you a tax declaration form, visit the Australian Taxation Office.

You can also find more information about tax and superannuation at Tax and superannuation.

Probation periods

When starting a new job, you may be asked to complete a probation period. A probation period gives both an employer and employee the opportunity to check that the employee is suitable for the role they’ve been hired to do. Employees on probation are still entitled to be paid their correct minimum wage and receive their National Employment Standard (NES) entitlements. 

For more information visit Probation.

Your rights and obligations

As an employee, your minimum entitlements at work come from the National Employment Standards (NES). Depending on what you do for work and the business you’re employed by, you might also have entitlements that come from an award or registered agreement.

National Employment Standards

The NES are 11 minimum entitlements that all employees are entitled to. These include entitlements such as hours of work, leave, and notice of termination. Some of them don’t apply to casual employees.

For a full list of these entitlements visit National Employment Standards.

Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS)

Your new employer has to give you a Fair Work Information Statement before, or as soon as possible after, you start a new job. This has information about your minimum entitlements and conditions of employment. Employers also have to give every new casual employee a copy of the Casual Employment Information Statement at the start of their employment.

For more information visit Fair Work Information Statements.

Awards and agreement coverage

For most employees, an award or registered agreement outlines minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. Awards, registered agreements and employment contracts can't exclude the NES, or include conditions that are less than the NES.

There are more than 120 awards that cover most industries and occupations.

Find my award can help you work out which one applies to you.

Registered agreements are made between an employer and their employees and must be registered with and approved by the Fair Work Commission.

To find an enterprise agreement, go to Fair Work Commission.

In some limited circumstances, there may be no award or agreement that covers your job or workplace. It’s always best to check. Employees that aren’t covered by an award or registered agreement are still entitled to the NES and the National Minimum Wage. You can contact us if you are unsure where your minimum entitlements should come from.

Types of employment

Your rights and entitlements will vary depending on your type of employment. Full-time, part-time and casual employees get different entitlements and have different workplace obligations.

Full-time and part-time employees

Full-time employees normally work an average of 38 hours a week (plus reasonable additional hours). Find out more about Full-time employees.

Part-time employees normally work less than 38 hours per week and have an agreed pattern of work. Find out more about Part-time employees.

Casual employees

Casual employees don’t have guaranteed hours of work each week. They are paid a casual loading instead of getting entitlements such as annual leave, sick leave, notice of termination or redundancy pay. Find out more about Casual employees.

Minimum pay rates

All employees working in Australia are entitled to a minimum wage. This is the minimum amount an employee needs to be paid for the work that they’re doing. The minimum wage is payable before tax is deducted (known as gross pay).

For most employees, minimum wages are set by the award that applies to them.

Usually, when a workplace has a registered agreement, the award doesn’t apply. However, the minimum pay rate in the registered agreement can’t be less than the minimum pay rate in the award.

If no award or agreement covers your job or workplace, you’re entitled to be paid the National Minimum Wage.

Find more information about the national minimum wage at Minimum wages.

An employee’s minimum wage can be different if the employee is:

Use our Pay and Conditions Tool to find the minimum pay rates, penalty rates and allowances that apply for your award.

Penalty rates and allowances

You may be entitled to penalty rates and allowances depending on when you work and the type of work you are doing. Check your award or agreement to see if any apply to the work you are performing.

You can find more information at Allowances, penalty rates and other penalties.

Pay slips

Your employer needs to give you a pay slip in hard copy or electronic form (for example, via email or an online portal) within 1 working day of pay day, even if you are on leave.

For more information about what should be included on your pay slip, visit Pay slips.

Breaks

It’s important to know when you’re entitled to take a break at work. Most employees are entitled to at least a 30 minute unpaid break after five hours’ work. Check your award or agreement to see what breaks you’re entitled to.

For more information, visit Breaks.

Keep track of your hours with our Record My Hours app.

Resolving workplace issues

By understanding your rights and obligations before you start a new job, you can avoid common problems in the workplace. If an issue does arise, our experience shows that employees and employers can resolve problems quickly if they work together to find a solution as soon as possible, and before we get involved.

For more information visit Workplace problems.

Tools and resources