Employment Contracts in Australia

Understand what should be included in an employment contract, award or agreement...

The terms and conditions of employment in Australia can be defined by an award, agreement or contract. These can be written from the National Employment Standards, which cover employment in the national workplace system, or using state or federal laws.

Minimum employment standards for an occupation are outlined in awards. These define a single set of minimum conditions for anyone employed in the same occupation across Australia. Most industries are moving to this national award system. The conditions of awards vary with state, employer and industry. Information that should be included in an award includes:

  • The basic rate of pay
  • The type of employment (full-time, part-time or casual)
  • Overtime rates
  • Work arrangements such as varying hours or shifts
  • Annual salary
  • Information on leave and leave taking
  • Allowances
  • Information on settling disputes
  • Redundancy
  • A flexibility term to allow negotiation to meet individual needs
  • To see a list of the types of employers covered by an award: Click here

Enterprise agreements define conditions of employment for a group of employees at one or more places of work. In most cases they define conditions for workers of one organisation. They legally override an award, but must offer at least the pay outlined in an award covering the employment. They are governed by Federal workplace relations. These are the basic method for outlining wages and conditions in Australia. Agreements can cover a broader range of issues than awards which are designed to outline minimum conditions of employment.

A written employment contract, outlining wages and conditions, is used for employees not covered by an award or agreement. Employees should receive a written contract when starting work along with the Fair Work Information Statement. The basic information that an employment contract should include is:

  • Names and details of employer and employee
  • Date of birth of employees
  • Job title
  • Place of work
  • Employment status (full time, part time or casual)
  • Start and end dates of the contract

The contract should also include:

  • Pay rate
  • Hours of work
  • Leave entitlements

Where applicable, other conditions such as job duties, allowances, bonuses, performance standards and so on should also be listed.