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Working conditions in Australia


Australia has government legislation in place to ensure that all workers are treated fairly, paid what they deserve, and kept safe.

All employees working in Australia have certain basic workplace rights protected by the National Employment Standards (NES). Beyond the NES, employees’ entitlements may be covered by either an award or a workplace agreement. We have outlined some of the main conditions you should be aware of.


National Employment Standards
Enterprise agreements
Annual leave


National Employment Standards

National Employment Standards (NES) are in place to ensure that all workers in Australia get their entitlements to leave and holidays, and employers follow correct procedures in instances of dismissal or redundancy.

The NES cover all people working in Australia; full time, part time, or casual.


Most jobs in Australia are covered by industrial awards, which work in complement with National Employment Standards to protect the rights of employees. They cover elements such as pay rates, penalty rates, and overtime.

Awards can be federal, meaning they cover jobs all around Australia, or by state or territory.

Not all jobs are covered by an award, but even workers who are not covered still have the right to NES and the minimum wage.

For more information on awards, visit the Fairwork website.

Enterprise agreements

Under the Fair Work Act 2009, there are three types of collective enterprise agreements:


  • Single-enterprise agreements: made between a sole employer and a group of employees.
  • Multi-enterprise agreements: made between more than one employer in an industry and their employees.
  • Greenfields agreements: made between an employer and a union in a new industry. Conditions are negotiated before any workers are employed.

Before January 1, 2010 employees could negotiate individual agreements, but this is no longer possible.

If an agreement is made in an industry where an award also applies, the agreement will overrule the award.

When applying for a job, make sure you are fully aware of the conditions of the enterprise agreement you will be working under.

Annual leave

The standard leave entitlement in Australia is four weeks per year. Some companies offer extra leave as a bonus.

In addition to annual leave there are a number of public holidays throughout the year. Some are national holidays, while others only apply to individual states, territories, cities, or towns. Consult the Australian Government website for public holidays in your area.


Employers in Australia are required to a minimum of nine per cent of their staff’s wages as superannuation, on top of their base salary. Some companies pay superannuation at up to 15 per cent but nine per cent is the standard rate.

Superannuation is paid into a fund, which may be chosen by the employee. Funds may not be accessed until the employee turns 60.

Legislation is in place to gradually increase the minimum superannuation rate to 12 per cent by 2020. To learn more about the rate increase, visit the Australian Tax Office website.

Learn more about Superannuation.