Know your rights and obligations
Employees and employers need to know their workplace rights and obligations. This helps answer questions, prevent and resolve issues about workplace entitlements and avoid disputes and penalties.
We have a number of different tools and resources available on our website to help you understand your rights and obligations.
On this page:
Employers need to know their rights and obligations in their workplace. This includes knowing the correct award that applies to their employees and relevant minimum pay rates, including penalty rates and overtime.
Most problems in the workplace happen when there is lack of awareness about workplace entitlements.
Being informed helps to maintain a harmonious work environment with more engaged and productive employees. Getting pay and entitlements right also means employers can avoid serious penalties.
Emilie, a small business owner, shares her story about how the Fair Work Ombudsman helped her understand her rights and obligations when she started a new business.
Knowing your rights and obligations is one of the most important things you can do to prevent workplace problems. If you know what you’re entitled to, you can recognise and raise issues with your employer before they become a problem. The resources on this page will help you become better informed.
The National Employment Standards (NES) are 11 minimum employment entitlements that apply to most employees.
The NES and the National Minimum Wage make up the minimum entitlements for most employees in Australia.
The Fair Work Information Statement (FWIS) contains information about the NES and other minimum entitlements. The FWIS has to be provided to all new employees by their employer.
Awards are legal documents that set out the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. There are more than 100 awards that cover most people who work in Australia, based on the industry or occupation.
Knowing which award applies helps make sure employees get their correct entitlements.
Use Find my award for help working out which award applies.
Minimum employment conditions can also be set out in an enterprise agreement or other registered agreement. When an agreement is in place the award does not apply, however, the NES will still apply and minimum pay rates can’t be less than the award.
Find out more about when agreements apply.
You can find enterprise agreements and other registered agreements on the Fair Work Commission website.
In some instances an employee may be award or agreement free. Find out how to check Award and agreement free wages and conditions.
Minimum pay rates are set out in awards. An employer can choose to pay an employee more than the award rate but can’t pay less.
You can use our Pay and Conditions Tool to work out wages under the awards, including penalty rates, overtime, and allowances.
An employer may also choose to pay an employee an annualised salary. This has to still cover all minimum requirements provided by the relevant award.
All awards and registered agreements include an individual flexibility arrangement (IFA) clause that allow an employer and current employee to agree to change certain provisions of their award or registered agreement.
For more information about IFAs and how to make them visit Individual flexibility arrangements.
We have extra tools and resources that may help you understand pay rates, including:
- Small Business Showcase – information and resources for small businesses
- Horticulture Showcase – information and resources for employers and employees in the horticulture industry
- Fast food, restaurants and cafes information and resources – for employers and employees working in these industries.
Job advertisements (ads) can't include pay rates that breach:
- the Fair Work Act, or
- a fair work instrument (such as an award or enterprise agreement).
For more information visit Job ads.
Employers have to provide pay slips and keep accurate and complete records about pay, hours of work and other employment details.
Visit our Pay slips and record-keeping page for more information about record obligations, including what needs to be on a pay slip, and templates.
You can use our Leave Calculator to work out annual and sick leave entitlements and balances.
Use our range of free templates to make a leave request, record a leave agreement or direct an employee to take leave.
Long service leave entitlements vary depending on the state the employee is based in. In some cases, employees will be covered by an older award or registered agreement that may have specific rules about their long service leave entitlements. For more information and details about who to contact, visit our Long service leave page.
Entitlements like breaks and allowances are different depending on the award or agreement that applies. We have information and resources to help you work out the rules that apply to you:
- Hours of work, breaks and rosters
- Flexibility in the workplace
- Allowances, penalty rates and other penalties
- Ending employment.
It’s important to stay up to date with changes to workplace laws. Knowing which pay rates and entitlements apply to you or your employees is one of the easiest ways to prevent problems from happening.
Minimum pay rates are reviewed and usually change once a year. The Fair Work Commission can vary awards at any time. We can let you know when these changes happen.
Minimum wage changes
Each year, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) reviews the National Minimum Wage (NMW) and minimum pay rates under awards. This is known as the Annual Wage Review.
It can result in the FWC increasing the NMW and minimum pay rates under awards.
Most changes begin on the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July. You can use our Pay and Conditions Tool to check your entitlements.
We can also email you when major changes occur. Stay up to date with wage changes by subscribing to email updates.
My account is our online portal where you can save personalised workplace information and resources and ask us general questions about your workplace rights and obligations.
With My account, you can:
- receive general information and resources about workplace laws, minimum employment conditions and entitlements
- save personalised pay, shift, leave, and notice and redundancy calculations from our Pay and Conditions Tool
- keep up to date with industry and award changes.
We know your time is valuable so please make sure your enquiry is suitable for My account before submitting.
By registering for My account, you can save our responses and personalised online resources to refer to later.
Register for My account.
Keep up to date with important workplace issues by subscribing for email updates.
You can call us to speak with a helpful adviser who can provide tailored advice about your rights and obligations. For general information, you can contact us online through My account and we’ll respond within 10 business days. We know your time is valuable, so please make sure your enquiry is suitable for My account before submitting.