There's more to wages and salaries than just being given money by your employer. As well as knowing about Australia’s minimum wage, you need to understand when and how you're going to be paid, as well as your employer's responsibilities.
Things like superannuation and tax also affect your pay, so it’s good to understand them too.
Minimum wage rates are the minimum amount that people must legally be paid for different kinds of jobs. Some employers pay more than the minimum wage, but it's illegal to pay less.
Your employer must, at least, pay you minimum wages. Before discussing pay with an employer, you should know your entitled minimum wage. Our What is your minimum wage? page has more information for you.
It’s also illegal for your employer to give you something instead of wages. For example, they’re not allowed to give you store credit as payment for your work. They must pay you money.
Getting paid: the basics
Before starting a new job, you can find out:
- how much you’ll be paid
- how often you'll be paid
- how you’ll receive your pay
- how to fill out a timesheet – many employers will ask you to complete a form to let them know how many hours you have worked in that pay period
- what kind of information will be included on your payslip.
How your wage is paid
Most people are paid by electronic funds transfer. This means your pay is deposited automatically into your bank account at the end of each pay period – for example, weekly, fortnightly or monthly. If you don’t have a bank account yet, you should open one before you start your job. Your employer will probably want you to give them your bank account details before you start work.
Sometimes you may be paid by cash. You might also be paid by cheque, although this is uncommon these days.
Payslips and what should be on them
You must receive a payslip each time you’re paid. Your payslip may be emailed to you, or it may be printed out and given to you.
In Victoria, payslips must show:
- payment date
- payment period
- number of hours/days you worked in the period
- your gross pay (before tax) and the amount you were actually paid (called net pay)
- all deductions, including tax deductions, made from your gross pay
- any superannuation payments made on your behalf.
Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman or your union if:
- you’ve never received payslips
- your payslips are incorrect
- your payslips don't provide the above information.
Superannuation and your new job
Superannuation (or super) is your money. Your employer must put it into your superannuation account on your behalf. You can access the money in this account when you retire. Superannuation companies (funds) are a bit like banks – they hold your super on your behalf, and invest it so that your money increases.
If this is your first job, your employer will set up an account for you with the superannuation fund they use for all their employees. If you already have a superannuation account you need to give your employer these details.
If you don’t think your employer is paying you the right amount of super, you can contact your super fund or the Australian Tax Office’s Super Helpline on 131 020.
Visit our What is superannuation <LINK What is superannuation> page for more detail about Australia’s superannuation system.
Paying tax in your new job
When you start a job, you need to have a tax file number (TFN). A TFN is a unique number given to you by the Australian Taxation Office. It’s used to identify your tax records. You have to apply for a TFN from the Australian Taxation Office.
On your first day you're usually asked to sign a tax declaration. This is a form you fill out that requires your TFN.
This tax declaration gives your employer permission to take income tax out of your wages. The employer then pays this money to the tax office on your behalf.
This is sometimes called the ‘pay as you go’ (or PAYG) system. It means that you pay your tax in small amounts from each pay, rather than getting a big tax bill at the end of the year.
It's illegal for your employer to deduct any money – for tax or any other reason – from your wages without your written permission. If you're worried about any illegal deductions from your wages, you should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.
You can find out more about tax on our What is tax and tax returns page.
It's normal to feel awkward about salary negotiation. Don't let this stop you from asking your employer for better or increased pay.
Visit our page on How to negotiate for what you want at work for some ways to ask about better pay.
Fair Work Ombudsman
The Fair Work Ombudsman gives advice and helps you understand your workplace rights and responsibilities.
Find out which union covers your industry