Full-time and part-time workers have employment rights under Australia’s national Fair Work system.
Casual workers have some of these rights. Visit our casual workers rights page to find out more about casual workers’ rights.
The Fair Work system
Australia’s national workplace relations system applies to nearly everyone working in Victoria. This system is called the Fair Work system.
This system sets out the rights and conditions that all employees are entitled to. It also enforces those rights by taking action against anyone who doesn’t uphold them.
The conditions set out by the Fair Work system are also known as a ‘safety net’.
There are three parts to this safety net:
- the National Employment Standards (NES) – these are 10 minimum standards that tell you about your general entitlements as an employee
- ‘modern awards’ – these are legal documents that cover specific conditions relating to different industries
- the national minimum wage – this sets the minimum amount that people working in Australia must be paid for different types of work.
You'll find more information about each of these things below, as well as links to organisations who can help you.
National Employment Standards
As part of the Fair Work system, there are 10 National Employment Standards that set out working conditions that apply to nearly everyone working in Victoria.
All these standards apply to full-time or part-time workers. If you’re a casual worker, our rights of casual workers page has more information about your rights.
The list below is just a summary – for a detailed explanation, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's website or call them on 13 13 94.
1. Provision of a fair work information statement
Every new employee must be given an information statement by their employer – this statement has information about the National Employment Standard, awards, the Fair Work system and other employee rights.
2. Maximum weekly hours of work
The maximum hours you can work in a single week is 38 hours (plus any ‘reasonable additional hours’ that the job might require).
3. Flexible working arrangements
If you've got kids or other family obligations, you have the right to ask for a change of hours so that you can meet those obligations.
4. Public holidays
You get a paid day off on public holidays, except when you're ‘reasonably requested’ to work on a public holiday.
5. Annual leave
Full-timers get four weeks of paid leave every year (part-timers get a proportion of this amount depending on how many hours a week they work), plus an additional week for some shift workers.
6. Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave
You can take a certain amount of paid leave if you're sick, or need to look after a family member, or because of a death in the family.
7. Notice of termination and redundancy pay
There are minimum notice periods that your employer must give you if you lose your job. This means they must give you a period of notice before sacking you.
These periods are based on the length of time you’ve been in the job. They range from one week’s notice if you’ve been in the job for one year or less, to four weeks’ notice for more than five years of continuous service.
Redundancy is when your employer decides they no longer need your job to be done by anyone. It can happen due to new technology, lower sales or production, or the employer closing down.
If you're made redundant, you can receive up to 16 weeks’ redundancy pay, based on how long you’ve been in the job.
8. Parental leave and related entitlements
If you or your partner have just had a baby or you've just adopted a child, you're entitled to take maternity, paternity or adoption-related leave.
9. Community service leave
You can take unpaid leave to do voluntary emergency activities or to attend jury service if required.
10. Long service leave
If you've been with the same employer for a period of between seven and 15 years (depending on awards and contracts), you're entitled to additional leave over and above your normal annual leave. In some industries, you’re allowed to take your long service leave entitlement with you if you change employer.
An award is a set of work conditions, including pay rates, that relate to a specific industry or job.
Fair Work's modern awards are updated and streamlined versions of previous awards.
While the National Employment Standards set out minimum conditions for all jobs, modern awards contain additional conditions for particular industries or jobs.
Visit our employment contracts <LINK Employment contracts> page for more information about Australia’s award system.
You can find out more about modern awards at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) modern awards page. You can also call the Fair Work info line on 13 13 94 to ask what award you're covered by, or use their online enquiry form.
Note that if you're not covered by an award, you're still protected by the 10 National Employment Standards and the national minimum wage requirements.
The Fair Work Commission sets minimum wage rates for different types of jobs and workers. It’s illegal for you to be paid less than the minimum wage that they set.
The ACTU Worksite Rights at work page also has useful info about salaries and handy factsheets to download.
Visit our minimum wage page for more information.
Where to get help
There are a number of websites with information on your rights as an employee. Each of these sites provides helplines, so you can speak to an expert:
- JobWatch is a statewide community legal centre specialising in issues for workers in Victoria, and offering free and confidential advice – call them on 9662 1933 if you're in Melbourne, or 1800 331 617 if you're outside Melbourne. You can email them on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Fair Work Ombudsman is the Federal Government body that gives advice about Australia's national workplace relations system and helps people understand their workplace rights and responsibilities – call them on 13 13 94 or use their online enquiry form.
- The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is a national organisation representing the Australian workforce – call them for workplace advice on 1300 362 223 or use their online enquiry form.