Everyone working in Victoria is covered by Australia's national Fair Work System, which sets out the rights and conditions that all employees are entitled to, and makes sure that employees actually do work under those conditions.
All Victorian employees are covered by a set of conditions that must be provided by your employer. These conditions are also known as a "safety net".
There are three parts to this safety net:
- The National Employment Standards (NES) - these cover your general entitlements as an employee
- "Modern awards" - these cover specific conditions relating to different industries
- The National minimum wage - this sets the minimum amount that people working in Australia must be paid
You'll find more information about each of these things below, as well as links to organisations who can help you out.
National Employment Standards (NES)
There are 10 National Employment Standards (NES) that set out working conditions that apply to everyone working in Victoria.
NOTE: While all of these standards apply to full-time or part-time workers, if you're a casual worker only some of these standards apply to you. Check out our Casual Rights page for more information about the rights of casual workers.
The list below is just a summary - for a detailed explanation check out the Fair Work Ombudsman's website or give them a call on 13 13 94.
1. Provision of a fair work information statement
Every new employee must be given an information statement by their employers - this statement provides information about the NES, 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/redundancy pay
You must get up to 4 weeks' notice of termination (this includes both if you get sacked or made redundant) and - if you've been made redundant - up to 16 weeks' redundancy pay (the actual amount is 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.
Note that this list is just a summary - for a detailed explanation of the NES check out the Fair Work Ombudsman's website or give them a call on 13 13 94.
An award is a set of work conditions, including pay rates, which relate to a specific industry or job.
Fair Work's "modern awards" are updated and streamlined versions of previous awards. They build on the National Employment Standards mentioned above and can include other conditions relevant to the particular industry you're working in or job you're doing.
You can find out more about modern awards at the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) Modern Awards page or call the Fair Work info line on 13 13 94 to ask what award you're covered by.
Note that if you're not covered by an award, you're still be 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. You can also call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.
The ACTU Worksite Rights at work page also has useful info about salaries and handy factsheets to download.
Where to get help
There are a number of useful websites containing information on your rights as an employee. Each of these sites provide helplines, so that you can speak with an expert if you wish.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) is a national organisation representing the Australian workforce - call them for workplace advice on 1300 362 223.