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Employment - pay and conditions

Employment - pay and conditions

Your pay and conditions depend on whether you are covered by national or state law. Conditions or entitlements may also be different for some workers, eg casual workers.

It is a good idea to get a copy of your award or agreement or contract of employment when you begin a job. This way you will always know what you are entitled to, and you will be able to check if anything does go wrong. Remember, if in doubt, get advice and get it fast.

Am I covered by state or national law?

It can be difficult to know what law applies to you and what your rights are.

Workers are not generally covered by the national system if they work for:

  • the WA state public sector
  • Australian corporations whose main activity isn't trading or financial, or 
  • sole traders, partnerships or trusts.

If you are unsure whether you are covered by state or national law, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) on 13 13 94 or go to its website, or Wageline on 1300 655 266.  

What if I am an independent contractor?

An independent contractor works under a contract for a specific job or length of time. They are not regarded as an employee and will have different rights.

Whether someone's an independent contractor or employee can be difficult to determine, it often depends on work requirements. If you need more information to work out if you are an employee or an independent contractor go to the FWO website.

For more information independent contractors can ring on 13 28 46 or visit its website or go to the FWO website.

What is a "sham" contract?

A "sham" contract is when an employer tries to disguise an employee as a contractor to avoid paying entitlements. The Australian Building and Construction Commission can help employees in the building and construction industry. It can be contacted on 1800 003 338.

Other workers can seek help from the FWO.

Who can I contact to see if I am being paid correctly?

To work out how much you should get paid you need to know whether you're covered by:

  • the state or national system, or
  • an award or an enterprise agreement.

What if I am covered by a State private sector award or agreement?

Wageline in Western Australia provides information on wages and conditions under private sector awards, agreements and legislation.

You can also:

  • Call Wageline on 1300 655 266 between 8.30am and 4.30pm weekdays WST (from 10.00am on Wednesday) to find out about wage rates.
  • Email an enquiry. Wageline tries to respond to web site enquiries within five working days.
  • Contact your union if you are a union member.

For more information, see rates of pay and conditions at the Labour Relations division Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety WA website.

What if I am covered by the Western Australian public sector?

See information for public sector agencies on public sector employment and Labour Relations division Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety WA website.

Contact your union if you are a union member.

What if I am covered by the national system?

You can :

  • Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or go to the FWO website for details of what your minimum rate of pay should be. If you have a hearing or speech impediment and use TTY (teletypewriter) telephone 1800 555 677 and ask for 13 13 94, speak and listen (speech-to-speech relay) 1800 555 727 and ask for 13 13 94.
  • Contact your union if you are a union member.

How do I get paid the correct amount and/or recover unpaid wages?

  • If you are a worker covered by state law contact Wageline on 1300 655 266 for information on how to resolve a complaint about unpaid wages, or go to the Labour Relations division Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety WA website.
  • If you are a worker covered by national law contact the FWO. The FWO has the power to take legal action to make your employer pay the minimum wage and entitlements. You can make a complaint to the FWO on 13 13 94, in person or online.
  • Get legal advice if you believe there is a breach of contract, or an award or an agreement.
  • Contact your union if you are a union member.

Are there special rules for young workers?

You can only work in some jobs with restricted hours before you turn 15 years of age. For information on the jobs you can do before you turn 15 go to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety  website under Labour Relations/Private sector employees/Young workers.

For information on pay and conditions for young workers in the national system go to the FWO website or contact the FWO on 13 13 94.

If you are covered by state law contact Wageline on 1300 655 266 or go to the Labour Relations division Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety  WA.

Do I have to disclose a spent conviction on an application for a job?

See What spent conviction orders do.

What if I think I have been unfairly dismissed?

For more information go to Unfair dismissal and unlawful termination of employment.

Do time limits apply to recover entitlements?

Yes. Get legal advice about what time limits apply in your situation.

Do I have any other protection at work from unfair treatment by an employer (other than dismissal)?

If you are covered by the national workplace relations system and the action you are concerned about is prohibited under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) you may be able to apply to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) to resolve your dispute. There is an application fee. 

The general protections provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) aim to protect workplace rights and freedom of association and to provide protection from workplace discrimination for workers covered by national law. An employer must not take any adverse action against another person (eg demote them, reduce their overtime, discriminate between them and other employees, etc) because the other person has a workplace right, exercises or proposes to exercise one of these rights, or because of the characteristics covered under the Act, eg race, sex, marital status.

These provisions also apply to prospective employers and prospective employees in certain situations

For information on the specific sorts of rights protected by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) under these provisions, how they can be breached and how to make an application to FWC visit the FWC website under Dispute resolution/General protections disputes or visit the Employment Law Centre of WA (Inc) website.

What if I am being bullied or harassed at work?

For information on bullying and violence in the workplace including frequently asked questions go to the Department  of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety  website WorkSafe section.

If your workplace is covered by the national workplace relations system, the FWO can investigate bullying and harassment at work if it is happening because of one or more of your characteristics, eg religion, sex, physical disability or mental disability.  If you work for a Federal Government agency or your employer is a national employer who has a self insurance licence for workers’ compensation, Comcare on 1300 366 979 may be able to offer help with bullying.

If you are being bullied or harassed at work for any other reason, or for no reason, you can get advice and help from WorkSafe (Department of Mines Industry Regulation and Safety) on 1300 307 877.

From 1 January 2014 if you are a worker in a constitutionally-covered business who has been bullied at work and the behaviour creates a risk to your health and safety you can apply to the FWC for an order for the bullying to stop. Workers has been defined broadly and includes employees, contractors, subcontractors, outworkers, apprentices, trainees, students gaining work experience and volunteers. Members of the Defence Force are not covered. An order cannot be made if you have has resigned or been dismissed.

A business is a constitutionally-covered business if the person who conducts the business is:

  • a constitutional corporation which includes a proprietary limited company, foreign corporation, or a trading or financial corporation formed within the limits of the Commonwealth
  • the Commonwealth
  • a Commonwealth authority
  • a body corporate incorporated in a Territory, or

the business is conducted principally in a Territory or Commonwealth place.

It does not include sole traders, partnerships, some State government employees including those in the WA state public sector, and corporations whose main activity is not trading or financial.

Reasonable management action in the workplace carried out in a reasonable manner will not be seen as bullying. This could include for example, informing a worker about unsatisfactory work performance or asking a worker to perform reasonable duties in keeping with their job. As long as it is done in a reasonable manner this will not be seen as bullying.

For information on which workers are covered, how bullying is defined, and the procedure for making an application go to the FWC website.

Where can I get more information?

Last reviewed: 29/11/2013

Last modified:


The information displayed on this page is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. If you have a legal problem, you should see a lawyer. Legal Aid Western Australia aims to provide information that is accurate, however does not accept responsibility for any errors or omissions in the information provided on this page or incorporated into it by reference.