Advice on your rights
The best way to protect and improve your rights at work is to join your union. The law says that you have the right to join a union and take action to solve workplace problems. With your union you can exercise this right to win fair and just treatment at work.
If you have a question about your rights, or feel that your rights have been violated, you should contact your union. Your first contact should be your workplace union delegate, or you can call your local union branch. United Voice offers members free legal advice on work related problems. If you would like advice, but are not yet a member, it is quick and easy to join the union.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is my correct pay?
- Your pay will either be set by an enterprise agreement or, where there is no enterprise agreement, by an award. Which award applies to you depends on which industry you work in. Enterprise agreements and awards contain classifications which set out the rate of pay that applies for different types of work. This rate of pay and your classification should appear on your pay slip. In addition, depending on the work you do, you may be entitled to special allowances or other benefits such as overtime.
- How do I find out what I should be paid?
- You should ask your employer in the first instance to tell you what they believe your correct pay rate is. If you have any doubts about the accuracy of that answer you should see your workplace delegate. If you are unable to find your workplace delegate and you are a member of the union you should contact the Member Support Line in your State: see the contacts page for more information.
- Where do I find out what my entitlement is to annual leave, sick leave etc?
- Your entitlement to pay and conditions will appear in your enterprise agreement or where you don’t have an enterprise agreement in your industry award. You should ask your employer which of these applies to you and ask them for a copy. You should also ask your delegate for a copy of those documents. There are minimum National Employment Standards that apply to workers covered by Federal law. Most States have laws relating to minimum standards for long services leave.
- Which legal system applies to me at work – the Federal or the State system?
- Normally it will be both that applies to you at work and the answer can be very confusing. For example, most workers are now covered by Federal industrial relations legislation but are still covered by State legislation if they are injured at work. As a general rule most employees of State governments (other than in Victoria and the Territories) are still covered by State industrial relations law and everyone else is covered by Federal industrial law. Long service leave is generally covered by State law.
- What do I do if I think I have been unfairly dismissed?
- You should instantly contact your delegate and inform them of your dismissal and ask them for advice. You must contact your delegate as soon as possible because under the Federal law you only have 14 days from your dismissal in which to lodge a claim in Fair Work Australia. If you can’t get in touch with your delegate and you are a member of the union you should contact the Member Support Line in your State: see the contacts page for more information. Please note the union is very unlikely to represent you if you are not a member of the union or you joined only when you got into trouble.
- What do I do if I think have been discriminated against?
- It is unlawful for an employee to be disadvantaged in the workplace on the grounds of race, colour, sex, sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, marital status, family or carer’s responsibilities, pregnancy, religion, political opinion, national extraction or social origin. There may also be other grounds of discrimination that you are able to argue depending on the law in your state or Territory. If you believe you have been discriminated against you should urgently speak to your workplace delegate. If you can’t get in touch with your delegate and you are a member of the union you should contact the Member Support Line in your State: see the contacts page for more information. Further information can also be found by accessing the National Anti-Discrimination Information Gateway.
- What do I do if I want to lodge a grievance against another worker or my employer?
- You should research your complaint and approach your employer directly. If you are uncomfortable approaching your employer directly you may wish to consult with your workplace delegate. If you can’t get in touch with your delegate and you are a member of the union you may wish to contact the Member Support Line in your State for assistance: see the contacts page for more information.
- What do I do if my employer asks me to a meeting where I think disciplinary action may be taken against me?
- You should contact your workplace delegate and ask them to accompany you to the meeting. If you can’t get in touch with your delegate and you are a member of the union you should contact the Member Support Line in your State: see the contacts page for more information.
- My boss has told me I can’t be a member of the union. Is that right?
- No. It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate you because you are a member of a union and they can’t stop you from joining.
- My boss has asked me to tell him whether I am a member of the union. Do I have to tell him?
- No you do not, especially if you believe you may be treated less favourably because you have joined the union. These days most members pay by credit card or direct debit and their employer does not need to know which of their employees are members of the union.
- I have been injured at work and I want to know if I have a claim against my employer. What should I do?
- You should contact the contact the Member Support Line in your State: see the contacts page for more information. Your union Branch will refer you to one of our recommended panel of solicitors who will be able to advise you on your claim. You should call as soon as possible as time limits may apply to lodging any claim.
- Am I entitled to “Flexible Work Arrangements” ?
Flexible working arrangements assist employees achieve balance between work and family responsibilities. These arrangements can help parents manage the demands that come with being a parent of a young child, such as picking-up and dropping-off at childcare, caring for sick children, and attending medical and other appointments. Any employee may ask their employer for flexible work arrangements, but from 1 January 2010 the Fair Work Act 2009 provides employees with a legal right to request a flexible working arrangement. To be eligible:
- you must be the parent or carer of a child who is under school age or under 18 and has a disability and,
- You have worked for your employer for at least 12 months on a full-time or part-time basis, or
- you have been working as a long-term casual employee (a long-term casual employee would usually have been employed on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months) and have a reasonable expectation of ongoing employment.
A formal request under the Fair Work Act 2009 must be in writing and be given to your employer. Employers must seriously consider a request for flexible working arrangements but may refuse on reasonable business grounds..
- Am I entitled to a payslip?
- All workers in Australia covered by the Fair Work Act 2009 have an entitlement to receive a payslip each time that they are paid (regardless of what Award or Agreement they are employed under). The payslip must be provided by the employer to the employee “within one working day of paying an amount” (FW Act s536 (1)). The payslip must be either in an electronic or hard copy (Fair Work Regulation s.(3.45)). Also, the Fair Work Regulations requires that the payslip that each worker must receive each time they are paid must include some specific information. s.(3.46 (1-6)).
- Where do I go for more information on my employment rights?
- If you are a member of the union, ring your member rights centre in your State or Territory. If you are not a member, the Fair Work Ombudsman is a statutory body that will provide advice and possibly assistance on your employment rights. You can click through to their website here or call them on 13 13 94.
The material on this web site is provided for general information only, and on the understanding that United Voice is not providing professional or legal advice on a particular matter. This web site contains information that is intended to simplify the law for ease of comprehension. In addition, errors or omissions can occur in the preparation of web pages. Therefore, before relying on the material, users should independently verify its accuracy, completeness, relevance for their purposes and that it is up-to-date. Before any action or decision is taken on the basis of any material on this web site the user should obtain appropriate independent professional advice. Where this page provide links to external websites, these links are provided for the visitor's convenience and do not constitute endorsement of material at those sites, or any associated organisation, product or service.