Gen United
Contracts ✍️

Whether its your first job or third, fourth or fifth job; understanding your employment contracts is super important. 

Header saying Contract of Employment

Let’s begin…

When starting employment with any business or organisation, your employer will more than likely offer you a contract that outlines your employment conditions for you to agree to by signing before you start working. 

It’s worth noting that a written contract of employment is not required by law, however they are very common and you should know what to look for before signing.

Did you know… you do not need to sign your employment contract on the spot (if they offer it to you in person). 

Employment contracts can be confusing (we totally get it). You’re entitled to take your contract away, read it, and ask questions until you fully understand what you’re signing.

It’s really important that you understand any contracts that you sign, and that a parent or guardian is present when you sign a contract if you’re under 18. If you sign a contract and you’re under 18, it may not be legally binding without your parent or guardian co-signing it.

TIP: Ask for a copy of your signed contract and keep it somewhere safe!

More things to know about your employment contract…

The short answer is no. Your employer can’t force you to sign a new contract and any attempt to force you to enter into a new contract is illegal.

An employment contract must be agreed upon by both parties.

An employer can’t change the terms of your employment agreement without informing you. This is because employment agreements need to be agreed on by both the employer and employee in order to be valid. Therefore, you need to provide consent to your employer for them to make changes to your employment contract.

A new contract is not required if the terms of Award or Enterprise Agreement change/increase, or the minimum wage does. New contracts are not required that often, and should be something you should seek advice on with your union. 

Whether it’s included on the contract your signing, or in a seperate document your employer provides you, it is strongly recommended that you know the Award or Enterprise Agreement (EA) your new employer is covered by. This will help you in knowing if they’re going to pay you the correct wage you’re entitled to and any pay increases based your age or skill advancements.

Awards tell employees the terms and conditions of their employment.

Most awards cover a whole industry or occupation. Examples are ‘hospitality industry’ or ‘aged care industry’.

The employee receives the benefits in the award plus other terms the law requires – for example the National Employment Standards (don’t worry, we will touch on this more in Part Three).

Examples of the terms in an award are:

  • wages
  • leave
  • ordinary hours of work
  • overtime
  • shift work entitlements.

Enterprise agreements are often similar to awards, but they cover a specific business or businesses. They may also have some terms and conditions that are different from the award.

If an agreement applies to an employee, the modern award does not apply even if it covers them.

Example: while there is an award for businesses and workers within the hospitality, there are some restaurants that use an EA rather than the awards like Grill’d. 

An employer and a majority of employees can create an agreement that meets the needs of the business.

To make sure this is fair on employees, the Fair Work Commission assess all agreements. They only approve agreements that meet the requirements in the Fair Work Act 2009.

Because this is the information you will need to know to be able to check if you are being paid the correct wage based on your age, position and other factors; and other things like leave and other entitlements like allowances.

Your position title – and why it’s important!

Some businesses will give their employees position titles like “Sandwich Artist” or “Team Member”.

While there is nothing wrong with creating their own position titles within their business, it can sometimes make it difficult for the employee to know their official position title (referred to as classification) and what level they are particularly when it comes to awards.

Katie gets a job at a well-known fast food sandwich shop. On her contract, the employer refers to Katie’s position as ‘Sandwich Artist’.
In this example, this business is covered by the Hospitality Award. This award (like most) using classification (similar to position title) and levels.
An employee’s minimum pay rate is determined by their award classification. Employers need to make sure they’ve correctly identified each employee’s classification.
Within this Hospitality Award, some classification include “”Food and beverage attendant grade 1” and “Cook grade 2”. There are 6 levels, excluding the introductory level within the award.
In order for Katie to make sure she is being paid correctly according to the Award her employer covered under, she will need to know the classification and level she is being paid at… This is hard for Katie as she does not know her correct classification and level based on the employer’s position title of “Sandwich Artist”. 

SO! What does this mean for you?

It means that prior to signing your contract, it is best to check with your new employer the Award they are covered under, your official classification and level they will be paying you at prior to signing a contract. 

Your classification can change if your role changes or you get a new qualification.

For example, an employee could change classification if they take on more responsibility for supervising other staff.

Your employers should review their award’s classifications when an employee:

  • changes job or duties
  • takes on more responsibility, such as becoming a supervisor
  • completes relevant training, or
  • obtains a new qualification.

Yes! First off, permanent employees (full time and part time) are paid differently to casual employees. Casuals are paid at a higher rate than permanent employees to compensate for not having other entitlements such as paid sick leave.

Are you ready to test your knowledge about contracts?

Now let’s move to

Knowing Your Wages 💰

We totally get it… Finding out the correct wage you should be paid based on your industry, level or age can be confusing.
We’re here to help! Take a look below to find your wages.