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Know Your Workplace Rights

Posted on Nov 26, 2021

We recently heard a story from a candidate that disturbed us. The candidate currently works for a big global company here in Australia. The company has been off the record asking its employees to take their long service leave but work throughout their leave. The organisation claimed it was to prevent redundancies but conversely, they were still letting people go.

We were also told recently about an employee who was taking leave to have a surgery. Her boss took issue with the time the employee wanted to take (five days) and insisted that she only take three. We hear stories like this from time to time and they’re very concerning because there is legislation in place to protect workers’ rights for good reason. Employees who are worried about losing their job can be easily taken advantage of if they aren’t aware of their rights and responsibilities. 

If you’re wondering whether your employer is abiding by legislation around workplace rights, there are a few key indicators to look out for.

Warning Signs 

  1. No pay slips. If your employer is not giving you payslips then it’s not as easy for you to keep track of the hours you’ve worked and whether your tax and superannuation are being paid correctly. You can download the Record My Hours app to help you keep track of them yourself, but it would also be a good idea to ask your employer if you can start receiving pay slips.
  2. Not paying award or minimum wage. It is your employer’s responsibility to ensure you are at least being paid the award or minimum wage legislated for your industry. Pay errors are not necessarily ill-intentioned and can occur simply because payroll made a mistake. It’s important to know your entitlements – there have been many cases where staff have realised they were being underpaid and been back paid.
  3. Not getting breaks. The breaks you’re entitled to can be industry-specific, for instance in hospitality you can work five hours then you’re entitled to a break. It’s a good idea to be aware of the industry-specific legislation in addition to checking your employment contract.
  4. Not getting leave entitlements. If you’re in a circumstance like the candidate we spoke to that was being pressured to work through their leave, this is simply not acceptable. 

How to Avoid Being Taken Advantage Of

FIRST, it’s important to read up on what your workplace rights are. There are many rules in place about employment conditions and these can vary between industries. The Fair Work Ombudsman website (https://www.fairwork.gov.au) is the best place to start. Its function is to help Australians follow the laws that make all workplaces equal and fair.

SECOND, it’s also important to look over your employment contract to establish what the terms of your agreement are specifically. This will highlight if there’s anything your company is doing that breaches your contract and you’ll also be able to see if there’s anything that doesn’t comply with workplace legislation.

The above information is just a short overview. It’s essential that you check the relevant government websites for the most up to date information as it specifically relates to your situation.