Pay issues

For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.

As an employee, you should be paid for all time that you work. How much you get paid will be set out in your employment contract, an enterprise agreement or a modern award and it might be different depending on your age or whether you are a casual or permanent employee. If you have been underpaid, there are steps that you can take. 

Navigate this page

Minimum wage

As an employee working in Australia, you are entitled to be paid the minimum wage. While your employer can pay you more than the minimum wage, they cannot pay you less than the minimum wage.  

How do I know if I'm being paid the right amount?

Depending on the type of work you do, you may be covered by a modern award.  Modern awards set out the minimum rates of pay for employees working in specific jobs and classifications set out in the relevant modern award.  You can find your modern award here. 

If the type of work that you do is not covered by a modern award, you will be entitled to be paid the Federal Minimum Wage. The Federal Minimum Wage changes every year. You can find more information here.

Does my pay change depending on how old I am?

Yes. Many awards and agreements include junior rates of pay (for workers under 21). Junior rates are usually a percentage of an adult rate for a job. 

For example, a worker who is 18 might get 70 per cent of the adult rate. An employer can agree to pay you more than the minimum amount set out in a modern award that applies to your employment, but they have to pay you at least the minimum amount.  

How much should I get paid if my employer has an enterprise agreement?

If your employer has an enterprise agreement in place, you are entitled to be paid the applicable minimum rate set out in the enterprise agreement. The rate of pay in the enterprise agreement must be at least as much as the applicable rate under the relevant modern award or Federal Minimum Wage (whichever would have applied to you if your employment was not covered by the enterprise agreement).  

How you can calculate how much you should be paid

Once you know whether your employment is covered by and award or enterprise agreement you can calculate your pay using the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) 

If you need help calculating how much you should be paid, you can contact us here.  

How often should I be paid?

You should be paid at least once a month, but you may be paid as often as weekly or fortnightly.  How often you are paid, and the method (such as by direct deposit into your account or by cash or cheque) will usually be set out in your modern award, enterprise agreement or employment contract. Your employer will decide the exact dates when you are paid and this will usually be explained in your employment contract.    

There is no law requiring employers to pay you on any particular day. 

Once your employer pays your wages, they must provide you with a payslip within 1 working day.  For more information about payslips, including what your employer must include on your payslip, you can visit the Fair Work Ombudsman page here. 

Do I get paid for public holidays even if I am not working?

Full time employees are paid for public holidays even if they do not work on that day.

Part time employees will only be paid if they would normally work on the day that falls on a public holiday. 

Casual employees will not generally be entitled to payment for a public holiday if they do not work that day. If they do work on a public holiday, casual employees will ordinarily be entitled to receive penalty rates.  

For more information about working on public holidays, check out this video. 

You can read more about public holidays here. 

You can find a list of the different public holidays in each state here. 

What if I think I have been underpaid?

If you believe you’ve been underpaid, it’s a good idea to speak to your employer, your supervisor, your manager or HR manager about it, if you feel comfortable to do so. Speaking to your employer/manager first is an important step in trying to resolve the situation. When you talk to your employer/manager you can clarify the award or agreement that you applies to your employment.  

You can practise having a difficult conversation in the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Difficult conversation in the workplace course here. 

You may want to write a letter or email to your employer/manager, stating the rates that you are entitled to under the award, so that the discussion and any agreement can be recorded. 

It is important to know that your employer cannot take adverse action against you, such as firing you or demoting you, for making an enquiry about your pay.

If talking to your employer does not solve the issue, there are further steps you can take, including: 

  • Writing a letter of demand; 
  • Making a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman
  • Taking legal action in court to recover unpaid wages

Generally, you have 6 years to make a complaint about underpayments at work.

If you think that you may have been underpaid, we strongly encourage you to contact us here for free and confidential legal advice about next steps that you can take. 

Youth Law Australia would like to express thanks to Hall & Wilcox and the Fair Work Ombudsman for assisting us with the preparation of this material.

Got a question you can't get answered?

If you have a problem or a question, you can send it to us today and we can provide you with free advice, information and referrals to help solve your problem. Just click on the button below.

Get help now

Select Your State or Territory

The law is different in each state and territory. Please select your state or territory to view legal information that applies to you.

// Zoho Script