Minimum wage | Getting paid right | Youth Central

Australia has minimum wages for workers. Minimum wages are the minimum amount that people must legally get paid for different types of work.

It’s okay to be paid higher than the minimum wage, but it’s unlawful to be paid less.

Depending on your work situation, you’ll either be getting a wage or a salary.

  • If your job is casual, you’re probably being paid a wage.
  • If your job is part-time or full-time, you’re probably being paid an annual salary.

Knowing your minimum wage will help you make sure you’re getting paid the right amount.

Minimum wages in Australia

The law in Australia sets the minimum wages. There are different minimum wages in different industries. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman is an Australian Government agency that gives free advice and information about Australia’s workplace laws.

The ACTU (Australian Council of Trade Unions) is the main organisation that represents Australian workers. When you join a union, your union can help you if you have a problem.

The Young Workers Centre helps young workers learn about their rights at work. They’re a union-based organisation.

Other things that affect how much you’re paid

In addition to the minimum wage, other things affect how much you’re paid.

These include:

  • your age
  • if you’re a trainee or an apprentice
  • whether your job is full-time, part-time or casual
  • your seniority, experience, qualifications and responsibilities
  • other awards, agreements or industrial laws that apply to your job.

Contact the Young Workers Centre, your union or JobWatch for more information about your specific circumstances. JobWatch is a statewide community legal centre specialising in issues for workers in Victoria, and offers free and confidential advice.

When to negotiate pay

For some jobs, your pay will be set by your employer. Just make sure it’s at the minimum wage or above.

For other jobs, you’ll need to negotiate your pay with your employer. The best time to negotiate pay is when you start a new job.

Find out your minimum wage, and research the pay for similar positions. If you already know what your rights are before you negotiate, you’ll be in a much stronger position.

Make sure you stick up for what you’re worth. Don’t accept anything less than the minimum wage for your situation.

Another time to talk about your pay is if any of these things happen:

  • when you get a promotion
  • when a junior employee turns a year older or becomes an adult (this means 18-21 years, depending on the award, agreement or industry sector)
  • when you shift from one year of your apprenticeship to the next
  • on the anniversary of your employment (12 months) when you are under a federal award or agreement
  • when a pay rise is awarded by Fair Work Australia
  • when an employment agreement says you should get one
  • when you sit down with your boss to talk about your performance (sometimes called a performance review).

Visit our How to negotiate for what you want at work page for more information on how to bring up the topic of pay with your boss.

What to do if you’re being underpaid

If you don’t think you’re being paid as much as you legally should be, there are things you can do.

If you signed a contract

If you signed a contract or an agreement before you started your job, and you think you’re being underpaid or working in unfair conditions, you can contact:

If you don’t have anything in writing

If you don't have a contract or anything in writing, start by finding out the standard pay in your industry for someone of your age and qualifications.

You can do this by:

Find out more about your rights at work

These Youth Central pages have more information about your rights at work: