Australia Labour Laws

April 14th 2024

This article covers:

What are Australia Time Management Laws?

The national employment system in Australia is commonly referred to as the “Fair Work System.” Established on July 1, 2009 under the Fair Work Act 2009, it serves as the primary legislation governing employment relations, minimum employment laws, and agency bodies in Australia.  The Fair Work System aims to promote fairness, flexibility, and certainty in employment relationships for both employers and employees. It encompasses various aspects such as workplace health and safety laws, protections against unfair dismissal, provisions for flexible work arrangements, and superannuation (pension) payments. The system is applicable to both employers and employees covered by the national system. However, some employees are not covered by the national system and there are separate non-national system employee entitlements in the Fair Work Act 2009 for such employees.

At the core of this system are the National Employment Standards (NES), which are a set of 11 minimum employment entitlements that must be provided to all employees in Australia (These entitlements will be further elaborated below). Together with the National Minimum Wage, they establish the minimum entitlements for employees. There are also other workplace instruments, such as modern awards, employment contracts, enterprise agreements, or registered agreements, which lay out employment conditions in Australia. These instruments cannot offer conditions that are below the National Minimum Wage or the NES and are also not allowed to exclude the NES.

There are several important entities that play roles in Australia’s Fair Work system. These are as follows:

  1. The Fair Work Commission – The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is the national workplace relations tribunal, established by the Fair Work Act 2009. It determines the minimum wages in Australia, addresses workplace issues, and regulates registered organisations. There are various laws that cover the function of the Fair Work Commission and a number of issues handled by the FWC, such as workplace bullying, sexual harassment, discrimination, small business support, conversion from casual to permanent employment, and cooperative workplaces programme. It also manages various disputes about awards or agreements, general protections, industrial action including ballots and prevention of unprotected strike action, as well as job keeper disputes.
  2. The Fair Work Ombudsman – The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) assists with common problems faced by employees in Australia, such as concerns about pay, entitlements after termination, workplace bullying, and pay slip issues. It also addresses questions about employment status, and distinguishing between employees and contractors. Similarly, the FWO addresses challenges faced by employers in their businesses, including wage-related uncertainties, confusion about industry awards, dealing with underperforming employees, concerns about underpayment of wages, and issues related to employees leaving without proper notice. There are also various additional resources for different workplace problems.
  3. The Fair Work Federal Division of the Federal Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia – These federal courts handle legal matters related to the Fair Work system in Australia, including disputes, hearings, and legal proceedings related to workplace issues and regulations.

The minimum pay rate in Australia is set by the Fair Work Act 2009 and it is subject to review on an annual basis. There are different minimum wages based on age, employment status, and industry, and some states or territories in Australia may have their own minimum wage rates that may differ slightly from the national minimum wage.

Learn more about Australia Working Time and it’s suggested 4-day Workweek.

Categories  Amount or rate
National Minimum Wage $23.23 per hour or $882.80 per 38 hour week (before tax). Minimum wage rates may vary by jurisdiction. (Effective July 1, 2023)
Casual employees 25% on top of the national minimum wage
Adult employees (aged 21 years or over) with a disability that does not affect their productivity. Same as the national minimum wage
Employees with a disability that affects the level of productivity required for their class of work and who meet the impairment criteria to receive a Disability Support Pension A percentage of the national minimum wage
Junior employees (under 21 years old) A percentage of the national minimum wage, based on the age of the employee. The rates can be found in Miscellaneous Award 2020 (clause 15.4).
Apprentices The rate is based on Miscellaneous Award 2020 (clause 15.2). The National Minimum Wage Order contains details of some transitional provisions that apply.
Trainees (employees doing a traineeship) The rate is based on the Miscellaneous Award 2020 (Schedule E).

What are the Hiring, Working & Dismissal Laws in Australia?

When hiring a new staff member in Australia, it is crucial for employers to familiarise themselves with their entitlements and obligations. The fundamental terms and conditions of employment are derived from:

  • The National Employment Standards (NES) – According to the National Employment Standards (NES), there are 11 minimum employment entitlements that apply nationally for specific industries and occupations. These are:
  1. Maximum weekly hours
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements
  3. Offers and requests to convert from casual to permanent employment
  4. Parental leave and related entitlements
  5. Annual leave
  6. Personal/carer’s leave, compassionate leave, and family and domestic violence leave
  7. Community service leave
  8. Long service leave
  9. Public holidays
  10. Notice of termination and redundancy pay
  11. Fair Work Information Statement (the FWIS) and Casual Employment Information Statement (the CEIS)
  • An award – Awards are legal documents that contain minimum rates of pay and conditions of employment.
  • A registered agreement – Also known as an enterprise agreement, is a legally binding agreement made between an employer and their employees or their representatives, such as a trade union. The agreement has terms and conditions for the employees it covers. It sets out what entitlements the employer agrees to provide for those employees in their business or organisation.
  • A contract of employment – is a legally binding agreement between an employer and an employee that outlines the terms and conditions of their employment relationship. It can be written, verbal, or implied, and it governs the rights and responsibilities of both parties during the course of employment.

The main difference between a registered agreement and a contract of employment in Australia is the nature and scope of their legal enforceability. While both registered agreements and contracts of employment are legally binding, registered agreements have a higher level of legal enforceability as they are governed by the Fair Work Act 2009 and are subject to approval and registration with the Fair Work Commission. On the other hand, contracts of employment are generally subject to contract law and may not have the same level of legal protection as registered agreements. However, it’s important to note that both registered agreements and contracts of employment must comply with the NES and other minimum standards prescribed by Australian employment law.

Several factors should also be considered in the employment process, including but not limited to the following:

Employment can be terminated through various means in Australia, such as resignation or dismissal by the employer. Regardless of how the employment relationship terminates, it is crucial to comply with the regulations regarding notice period, final pay, and other relevant requirements. Additionally, specific rights and obligations apply in cases of redundancy or business bankruptcy.

In order to terminate an employee’s employment, an employer must provide them with written notice of their last day of work, with some exceptions. The notice can be delivered in person, left at the employee’s last known address, sent by prepaid post, or, with the employee’s agreement, sent electronically via email or text message.

To resign from a job, employees should refer to their award, enterprise agreement, employment contract, or workplace policy to determine the required notice period. In many cases, employees may not need to provide written notice when resigning, and verbal notice may be sufficient.

There are various forms of protection for an employee in situations of termination under the Fair Work Act. Employees are eligible for this protection depending on the situation and based on the type of dismissal and termination as follows:

  • Unfair Dismissal – The Fair Work Commission may determine that an employee has been unfairly dismissed if the person was let go from their job in a manner that was considered harsh, unjust, or unreasonable, and the dismissal was not due to genuine redundancy. Additionally, if the employee worked for a small business and the dismissal did not align with the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code, it may also be considered unfair. This opportunity is exclusively available to employees who have completed a minimum of 6 months of service in a large business or 12 months in a small business, employees who have experienced job loss, and employees who are part of the national system. Individuals such as sole traders, contractors, agency workers, or certain government employees who are not part of the national system are not eligible. In some instances, employees who were made redundant or coerced into resigning by their employer may also be eligible to apply.
  • General Protections Dismissal – This dismissal is separate from unfair dismissal, as it does not solely revolve around the concept of “fairness”, but rather focuses on whether the employer has violated the general protections laws outlined in the Fair Work Act. Employees who have been dismissed for reasons prohibited by the Fair Work Act, such as discrimination, infringement of workplace rights, sham contracting, temporary absence due to illness or injury, or violation of freedom of association are eligible for this avenue.
  • Unlawful Termination – Unlawful termination refers to the wrongful dismissal of an employee by their employer based on protected attributes, such as race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, disability, marital status, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin, with exceptions. It also includes termination due to temporary absence from work due to illness or injury, trade union membership or non-membership, participation in industrial activities, absence during maternity or parental leave, engagement in voluntary emergency management activity, or exercising workplace rights through complaints, inquiries, or legal proceedings against the employer. A small number of employees are eligible to apply for unlawful termination. The Fair Work Act’s unlawful termination laws apply to various groups, including state government employees in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, and Western Australia, local government employees in New South Wales, Queensland, and South Australia, as well as employees of non-constitutional corporations in Western Australia, such as sole traders, partnerships, and trusts. Employees cannot apply if they are eligible to apply for unfair dismissal or general protection dismissal.

What Are the Key Labor Laws in Australia?

The Fair Work Ombudsman is responsible for overseeing various laws and regulations that regulate workplaces in Australia. Here, we provide a brief overview of significant employment laws in Australia that may not be related to the categories we have previously explored:

  • Fair Work Legislation – The Fair Work Act 2009 and the Fair Work Regulations 2009 are the primary laws that regulate the relationship between employees and employers in Australia. These laws establish minimum entitlements for employees, allow for flexible working arrangements, promote fairness in the workplace, and prohibit discrimination against employees.
  • Amendment Acts – Amendment Acts are amendments passed by the Australian Parliament at times to modify existing Acts. In addition, transitional provisions, state referrals, consequential amendments, and other measures may also be implemented to specific parts of the Fair Work system to facilitate the gradual implementation of changes and enhancements to laws and administration.
  • Corporations Act 2001 – The Corporations Act 2001 is the primary legislation governing various types of entities in Australia including companies and partnerships. This law oversees multiple areas, including the registration process for companies and the behavior of businesses during insolvency.
  • Independent Contractors Act 2006 – The Independent Contractors Act 2006 safeguards the rights of legitimate independent contractors to freely enter into services contracts with no interference from other parties.
  • Freedom of Information Act 1982 – The Freedom of Information Act 1982 grants members of the public the right to access official documents held by the Australian Government and its agencies.
  • Privacy Act 1988 – The Privacy Act 1988 governs the collection, use, and distribution of individual information by the Australian Government and its agencies.
  • Competition and Consumer Act 2010 – The Competition and Consumer Act 2010, enforced by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, aims to foster fair trading, competition, and consumer protections, with the goal of improving the well-being of Australians. The act encompasses various market areas, including the interactions between suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.
  • The Superannuation Guarantee Law – According to the Superannuation Guarantee law, eligible employees should receive minimum superannuation quarterly payments from their employer to their nominated complying superannuation fund. These payments will be in addition to their wages and are reserved throughout an employee’s lifetime to support their retirement.
  • Work Health and Safety Act 2011 – This law aims to establish a consistent framework that safeguards the health and safety of workers and workplaces in Australia. This involves minimising work-related risks, ensuring proper safety measures, promoting workplace representatio and cooperation, enforcing compliance, providing education and training, and promoting continuous improvement in work health and safety standards.
  • Anti-discrimination Laws: The Australian Human Rights Commission, as well as state and territory anti-discrimination agencies, enforce several anti-discrimination laws that forbid the unfair treatment of employees based on characteristics like race, gender, age, disability, and sexual orientation.

What are Australia Payment Laws?

In Australia, employees must be compensated with the appropriate pay rate for all hours worked, including time spent on training, team meetings, opening and closing duties, and unreasonable trial shifts. Obligations, such as paying wages, the minimum wage, pay slip and record-keeping requirements, as well as the regulations surrounding unpaid work must be minded.

What is the Minimum Wage in Australia?

All employees have the right to receive a minimum wage in Australia. This amount may be set either by the National Minimum Wage or the minimum wage specified in their specific employment award or agreement. It is also the amount they are paid before taxes are deducted.   

What is the National Minimum Wage in Australia?

The current National Minimum Wage in Australia, effective from July 1, 2023, is $23.23 per hour or $882.80 per week, assuming a 38-hour work week. This rate is set by the Fair Work Act 2009 and serves as the standard rate applicable to adult employees in the national system who are not covered by an award or registered agreement.

Workers who are bound by an award or registered agreement are entitled to receive minimum wage rates as determined by the award that applies to their industry or occupation. These rates may exceed the National Minimum Wage, as they may include additional payments such as penalty rates and allowances specified in their award or agreement.

The Fair Work Commission conducts an annual wage review to assess and potentially revise the National Minimum Wage and minimum pay rates under awards. Any changes typically take effect from the first full pay period that falls on or after July 1st.  

What are the Exceptions for Minimum Payment in Australia?

There are special national minimum wages in Australia which are determined based on factors such as employment type, employee age (if under 21 years), or employee work capacity. These wages include apprentice and trainee pay rates, junior pay rates, and employees with disability pay rates.

Additionally, some awards may include provisions for special pay rates or alternative pay arrangements that can be set by the employer, such as piece rates and commission payments, salary payments, and social and community services industry pay rates.

What are Australia's laws for Gender Pay Equity?

Gender pay equity involves guaranteeing fair compensation for work regardless of gender, and eliminating the devaluation of work based on gender. 

In Australia, recent amendments were made to the Fair Work Act 2009 on 7 December 2022 to incorporate gender equality as a consideration in the performance of functions and exercise of powers. Measures include eliminating gender-based wage discrimination, ensuring equal pay for work of equal or comparable value, creating favorable workplace conditions for women’s economic participation, and addressing gender pay gaps.

Further, the Fair Work Commission has the authority to issue an order, known as an equal remuneration order, which ensures that men and women are paid equally for work that is of equal or comparable value. This order can be requested through an application submitted on Form F46A, or it can be initiated by the Commission itself. The application can be made by an affected employee, a union representing such an employee, or the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. There are a number of factors that are assessed by a formed Expert Panel to issue an equal remuneration order. It’s important to note that employers who do not comply with an equal remuneration order may face penalties.  

What are the Laws Regarding Penalty Rates or Overtime in Australia?

Penalty rates refer to higher pay rates that employees are entitled to for working specific hours or days, including weekends, public holidays, overtime, late night shifts, or early morning shifts. However, certain workplace arrangements, such as annualised salaries, employment contracts, individual flexibility arrangements (IFAs), and guaranteed annual earnings, can impact the payment of penalty rates.

What Laws are in Place for Pay Slips, Record-keeping, and Payment Summaries in Australia?

Employers are required to give pay slips to their employees within one working day of being paid and these pay slips can be provided electronically or in hard copy. Certain details such as the employee’s pay must be contained in the pay slips, and providing false or misleading information on a pay slip can result in penalties. 

Employers must also maintain records of their employees’ pay, leave, and worked hours, as well as any changes to working arrangements or termination of employment. These records must be accurate and up-to-date.

Additionally, under the Single Touch Payroll (STP) system in Australia, employers are legally obligated to generate and provide Payment Summaries (known as Income Statements) for their employees for each financial year. Income Statements are used for income tax reporting, verifying income for applying for loans/mortgages, and providing evidence in order to receive government benefits.  

What is the Frequency of Pay in Australia?

The frequency of payment in Australia, whether weekly, fortnightly, or monthly, is usually specified in awards, enterprise agreements, or registered agreements. If not specified, the minimum requirement is to pay employees at least once a month. Payment must be made in monetary form and cannot be made “in-kind,” such as with goods or services. Employees can receive their wages in various ways, such as cash, cheque, or electronic funds transfer (EFT) into their bank account. 

What are the Australian Laws on Deductions and Unpaid Work?

In most cases, employers are not allowed to deduct money from an employee’s pay or require them to pay back money. Deduction in employee salaries must be for valid reasons such as if the employee fails to provide the appropriate notice period as required by their award or when an overpayment is made. An employer can make deductions from an employee’s pay only when written agreement from the employee for their benefit is secured or the deduction is permitted by law, court order, or the Fair Work Commission, permitted by the employee’s award, or permitted by the employee’s registered agreement with their voluntary agreement. 

In Australia, some work carried out by individuals may not result in monetary compensation. This is commonly referred to as unpaid work and is exemplified in vocational placements, unpaid job placements, internships, work experience, and trials. Such work serves different purposes, including providing job experience, training, and skills.  

What are the Laws on Tax & Superannuation in Australia?

The tax and superannuation system in Australia is a critical component of the country’s fiscal policy, aimed at funding public services, promoting savings for retirement, and maintaining economic stability.

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) oversees the administration and enforcement of tax laws, which include individual income tax rates, goods and services tax (GST), and capital gains tax (CGT), among others. The tax system is progressive, with higher earners paying a higher percentage of their income as tax.

Additionally, there is a mandatory superannuation or retirement savings system in Australia, known as the Superannuation Guarantee (SG), which requires employers to contribute a percentage of their employees’ wages to a superannuation fund. The superannuation system provides Australians with a means to accumulate savings for retirement and reduce reliance on government-funded pensions. Individuals can also make voluntary contributions to their superannuation accounts to save for retirement through self-managed super funds (SMSFs). There are also strict regulations in place, including contribution limits and preservation rules, to ensure that superannuation funds are used for retirement purposes.   

What are Australia Overtime Laws?

Overtime refers to working beyond the normal hours of work for a full-time or part-time employee, such as exceeding their daily or weekly maximum hours, going beyond their agreed-upon part-time hours, or working outside the designated ordinary hours outlined in their award, enterprise agreement, registered agreement, or employment contract. Overtime is typically compensated at higher rates (penalties) than regular hours. This rate varies depending on the particular industry, but is often an hourly rate of time and a half for the first 2 hours and double time for subsequent hours.

As per Australian regulations, full-time employees are typically expected to work a maximum of 38 hours per week, equivalent to 7.6 hours (or 7 hours and 36 minutes) per day. These hours are considered as regular work hours, and any time worked beyond these hours may be categorised as overtime.

It is also crucial to consider and manage health and safety issues, such as fatigue, when employees are required to work overtime. Employees also have the right to refuse overtime work that exceeds the maximum weekly hours unreasonably.

Employees are not obligated to work overtime unless their employment contract specifies that they are required to do so. According to the law, employees cannot be forced to work more than an average of 48 hours per week. They may agree to work additional hours, but this agreement must be documented in writing and signed by the employee. If the contract does not guarantee overtime, employers may prohibit their employees from working it. Employers cannot discriminate against employees by prohibiting some from working overtime while allowing others to do so.  

What are Overtime Exceptions in Australia?

Employers are only allowed to request or require employees to work beyond their maximum weekly hours if it is deemed reasonable. The specific circumstances under which an employee can be required to work overtime and the applicable overtime rates are typically outlined in an award, enterprise agreement, registered agreement, or employment contract.  For example, some awards may state that an employer can mandate overtime work within reason. 

Additionally, certain awards and registered agreements may provide employees with the option to take paid time off instead of receiving overtime pay, commonly referred to as ‘time in lieu’ (TOIL) or ‘time off in lieu’.

What are Australia Time Off/Break Laws?

Awards, enterprise agreements, and other registered agreements outline provisions for both paid and unpaid rest breaks, as well as meal breaks, for employees in Australia. Additionally, these agreements may also specify a minimum duration of time off that must be provided between the completion of one work shift and the commencement of another.  

What are Australia Laws for Rest Breaks, Meal Breaks, and Time Off?

A rest break is a brief pause during work hours that allows an employee to rest. In Australia, it is also be known as ‘crib breaks’, ‘rest pauses’, or ‘tea breaks’. On the other hand, a meal break is a longer period of uninterrupted rest that allows an employee to have a meal. 

These rest and meal breaks, including their duration, timing, and payment rules, are typically outlined in awards, enterprise agreements, and other registered agreements, which may provide for both paid and unpaid breaks.

Awards and registered agreements may also specify a minimum period of time that must be provided as a break between the completion of one work shift and the commencement of another. Further, some employees are entitled to request flexible working arrangements  

What are Australia Breastfeeding Laws?

Employers are required to make reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of breastfeeding mothers, according to the laws of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (2010). It is against the law for an employer to treat employees unfairly or differently because they are breastfeeding or expressing milk. Employees should try negotiating a fair agreement with their employers first, but if they make it challenging for them to continue breastfeeding, the employee can seek advice from their union representative or contact the Australian Breastfeeding Association.  

What are Australia Leave Laws?

Employees are entitled to various types of leave in Australia depending on their circumstances. The following are the primary types of leave available:

  • Annual Leave – All employees, with the exception of casual employees, are entitled to receive paid annual leave as per the National Employment Standards (NES). Awards, enterprise agreements, and other registered agreements may offer more leave than the NES, but they cannot provide less. Full-time and part-time employees are entitled to 4 weeks of annual leave based on their regular work hours, while shiftworkers may receive up to 5 weeks per year. Annual leave begins accruing from the first day of employment, including during probation periods, and accumulates gradually throughout the year. Unused annual leave can be carried over from year to year. Annual leave also accumulates during periods of long service leave, community service leave (e.g. jury duty), and paid leaves such as paid annual leave, paid sick and carer’s leave, and paid family and domestic violence leave. However, annual leave does not accumulate during periods of unpaid annual leave, unpaid sick/carer’s leave, unpaid parental leave, or unpaid family and domestic violence leave. 
  • Unpaid Maternity & Parental Leave – Employees may take parental leave after giving birth, after their spouse or de facto partner gives birth, or after adopting a child who is under 16 years old. Parental leave entitlements include maternity leave, paternity and partner leave, adoption leave, special maternity leave, a safe job and no safe job leave, and the right for employee parents to return to their previous job. All employees are eligible to take unpaid parental leave if they have worked for their employer for at least 12 months and they expect the responsibility for the care of a child. This can be taken up to 12 months, with the ability to request an additional 12 months. Casual employees can be eligible for unpaid parental leave if they have been working for their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months, or if they have a reasonable expectation of continuing to work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis, had it not been for the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Paid Parental Leave – Eligible employees who are the primary carer of a newborn or newly adopted child can receive up to 18 weeks of Parental Leave Pay (PLP), which is paid at the National Minimum Wage. Employees can receive PLP from the government as well as paid parental leave from their employer. Even if employees receive both these leaves, they are still entitled to unpaid parental leave. Furthermore, the current entitlement of 18 weeks’ paid parental leave pay will be combined with the current Dad and Partner Pay entitlement of 2 weeks’ pay. This means that partnered couples will be able to claim up to 20 weeks’ paid parental leave between them, while single parents can access the full 20 weeks. There are also additional changes to the Paid Parental Leave in Australia, including the removal of the obligation to resume work in order to qualify for the entitlement.
  • Pre-adoption Leave – Employees who are on parental leave to care for an adopted child are also eligible for 2 days of unpaid pre-adoption leave to attend interviews or examinations related to the adoption. However, employees cannot use this leave if their employer requires them to take a different type of leave, such as paid annual leave.
  • Community Service Leave – Casual and regular employees have the option to take community service leave for activities such as voluntary emergency management or jury duty. This leave can be taken during the activity and for reasonable travel and rest time. With the exception of jury duty which is paid, community service leave is unpaid. Also, there is no set limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take. However, the employee must notify their employer of the absence as soon as possible, even if it’s after the leave has started, and provide the expected period of absence. Evidence of entitlement to community service leave maybe requested by the employer from the employee who has given notice.
  • Long Service Leave – Long service leave is a benefit that employees receive after working for the same employer for an extended period of time. The entitlement to long service leave is determined by the long service leave laws of each state or territory, which specify the duration of employment required to be eligible and the amount of long service leave that an employee is entitled to. In some states and territories, even casual employees who have served for a long time may be eligible for long service leave. However, if there are already long service leave entitlements specified in a federal pre-modern award that applied to an employer and their employees prior to January 1, 2010, then the state and territory long service leave laws do not apply.
  • Family and Domestic Violence Leave – Every year, all employees, including those who work full-time, part-time, or casually, are eligible for family and domestic violence leave. This entitlement is outlined in the National Employment Standards (NES) and is similar to other types of leave such as annual leave or sick and carer’s leave. The availability of paid or unpaid family and domestic violence leave depends on the size of the employer, with different dates for implementation. Employees of small business employers are entitled to 5 days of unpaid family and domestic violence leave each year. However, according to the new law, both employees of small businesses and non-small business employees will be able to take up to 10 days of paid family and domestic violence leave each year. These entitlements include part-time and casual employees.
  • Compassionate and Bereavement Leave – Compassionate leave (also known as bereavement leave) is a type of leave that can be taken when an employee’s immediate family or household member passes away or develops a life-threatening illness or injury, when there is a stillbirth or miscarriage of a baby in their immediate family or household, or when their spouse or de facto partner has a miscarriage. Entitlements to compassionate leave are provided to all employees as per the National Employment Standards (NES) as well as by awards, enterprise agreements, or other registered agreements. Employees can take compassionate leave as needed and their entitlement is up to 2 days of compassionate leave each time they meet the criteria. The 2 days can be taken as agreed with their employer to be a continuous 2-day period, 2 separate 1-day periods, or as separate periods. Compassionate leave does not accumulate and is separate from sick and carer’s leave entitlements. If employees are already on another type of leave, such as annual leave, they can use compassionate leave instead. Compassionate leave is paid at the full-time and part-time employees’ base pay rate for the ordinary hours they would have worked during the leave and it cannot be cashed out. Additional entitlements such as incentive-based payments, bonuses, loadings, monetary allowances, overtime, or penalty rates are not included in this payment. Casual employees, on the other hand, receive unpaid compassionate leave.
  • Sick and Carer’s Leave – Employees can take sick and carer’s leave, also known as personal leave or personal/carer’s leave when they are unwell or injured, to take time off to care for a sick or injured immediate family or household member, or during a family emergency. Both paid and unpaid leave entitlements are included in the National Employment Standards. Full-time employees are entitled to 10 days of paid sick and carer’s leave, while part-time employees are entitled to a pro-rata amount calculated as 1/26 of their ordinary hours of work in a year. On the other hand, unpaid carer’s leave is also available, allowing employees to take 2 days off without pay each time a family member or household member requires care due to illness, injury, or unexpected emergency.
  • Public Holidays – Every employee is entitled to refuse to work on a public holiday, either for the entire day or a portion of the day. When working on a public holiday, additional workplace entitlements may apply, including extra pay such as public holiday rates, the option to take an additional day off, and minimum shift lengths. Similarly, there are entitlements and responsibilities for employees who do not work on a public holiday. Public holidays can vary depending on the state or territory where one is employed, and it is important to be aware of the dates of these holidays each year as they may have different pay rates and entitlements. Here is a list of public holidays in 2024 for each state and territory in Australia.

Here’s a table of some common public holidays in Australia:

Public Holiday Date Notes
New Year’s Day January 1 First day of the year
Australia Day January 26 Celebrates Australia’s heritage
Good Friday Varies each year Based on the Christian liturgical calendar and falls on the Friday and Monday respectively before or after the first full moon after the vernal equinox
Easter Monday Varies each year Based on the Christian liturgical calendar and falls on the Friday and Monday respectively before or after the first full moon after the vernal equinox
Anzac Day April 25 Commemorates Australian soldiers
Christmas Day December 25 Christian holiday
Boxing Day December 26 Observed in some states

Australia Child Labour Laws

What are the Laws on Working Hours for Minors and Breaks in Australia?

There are limitations set out by the Child Employment Act 2003 on the hours and times at which children can be employed. During school term, children can work for a maximum of 3 hours per day and 12 hours per week, inclusive of rest breaks. During school holidays, the limit is extended to 6 hours per day and 30 hours per week. For street trading, children cannot start work before 6 am or sunrise, whichever is later, and must finish by 6 pm or sunset, whichever is earlier. For other employment types, children cannot start before 6 am and must finish by 9 pm.

Children employed in industries other than entertainment must also receive a minimum rest break of 30 minutes for every 3 hours worked, and have at least 12 hours off between finishing one shift and starting the next. Moreover, they are prohibited from working during school hours on a school day.

What is the Minimum Working Age for Minors in Australia?

There are age restrictions for minors employed in different industries. Children must be at least 11 years old to deliver newspapers, advertising material, or make deliveries for a registered pharmacist. For other types of work, the minimum age is 13 years, excluding the entertainment industry. There is no minimum age for children working in a family business, while the minimum age for employment without a permit is 15 years, although a common misconception suggests it to be 14 years and 9 months.

What are the Laws for Employing Minors in the Family Business in Australia?

Minors who are employed in a family business, which is a business, trade, or occupation run by their parent or guardian, are subject to specific laws. Parents or guardians who employ their own children in a family business or farm are exempt from obtaining a child employment permit and adhering to general employment conditions such as age restrictions, work hours, and rest breaks. However, they must directly supervise their children. If someone else is appointed as the child’s supervisor, the family business exemption does not apply, and a permit must be obtained.

Parents or guardians in a family business are still obligated to follow restrictions on light work and prohibited work, as well as ensure that work is not performed during school hours.   

What are the Laws for Employing Minors in the Entertainment Industry in Australia?

When it comes to employment in the entertainment or advertising industry, there is no specific minimum age for hiring minors, but there are certain requirements that vary depending on the age of the child involved. For instance, a baby that is younger than 12 weeks requires a registered nurse to be present at the workplace. Further, there are specific requirements pertaining to the supervisor overseeing the work of a child under 6 years old.

Children working in the entertainment and advertising industries, such as film, television, radio, television commercials, online commercials, photography, and modelling must adhere to specific working hours as follows:

  • Minors under 3 years – can work for a maximum number of 3 days in any period of 7 consecutive days for 4 hours only from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Minors 3 to under 8 years – can work for a maximum number of 4 days in any period of 7 consecutive days for 6 hours only from 6 a.m to 11 p.m.
  • Minors 8 to under 15 years – can work for a maximum number of 5 days in any period of 7 consecutive days for 8 hours only from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

On the other hand, children’s work hours in entertainment industries that include live entertainment, such as musical theatre, opera, theatre, circus, and bands are restricted as per the following:

  • Minors under 2 years – can work for a maximum number of 1 day in any period of 7 consecutive days for 4 hours only from 9 am to 6 p.m.
  • Minors 2 to under 6 years – can work for a maximum number of 3 days in any period of 7 consecutive days for 4 hours only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Minors 6 to under 10 years – can work for a maximum number of 4 days in any period of 7 consecutive days for 4 hours only from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
  • Minors 10 to under 12 years – can work for a maximum number of 4 days in any period of 7 consecutive days for 6 hours only from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Minors 12 to under 15 years – can work for a maximum number of 4 days in any period of 7 consecutive days for 8 hours only from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

What are the Sanctions for Employing Minors in Australia?

The Child Employment Act sets out various offences and corresponding penalties to protect minors in Australia, which include actions such as employing a child in prohibited employment, employing or permitting a child to work without a proper permit, disregarding general and/or special employment conditions for children, impeding or obstructing a child employment officer, violating permit conditions, and allowing an unsuitable person to have direct supervision or control over a child. The penalties for such offenses and others can range from $1000 to $10,000.

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