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Employer Pay and Entitlement Obligations

With the recent media around celebrity chef George Calombaris’ restaurants underpaying staff by $2.6 million, it is a timely reminder to ensure that employers get it right from the commencement of employment.

Wages and employment conditions are often one of the first things a potential employee will consider about a job. They are also an effective way to reward employees according to their skills and experience. That's why you need to understand your obligations as an employer to uphold the entitlements of your staff.

As an employer, you must pay your employees at the correct rate, as well as any entitlements they are eligible for. The wages and entitlements your employee is eligible for can depend on:

  • Age;
  • State in Australia;
  • The industry;
  • Any relevant qualifications;
  • Work duties and responsibilities.

Entitlements for work conditions in many jobs are governed by the national workplace relations system, which includes modern awards and the National Employment Standards (NES). Employees covered by the national workplace relations system are also entitled to leave provisions as set out in the NES.

The NES contains 10 minimum entitlements for employees, although not all of these apply to casual workers. The entitlements include:

  • Maximum weekly hours of work;
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements;
  • Parental leave and related entitlements;
  • Annual leave;
  • Personal/carer's leave and compassionate leave;
  • Community service leave;
  • Long service leave;
  • Public holidays;
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay;
  • Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement.

You may also have the option of setting out wages and conditions of employment in an enterprise agreement or written contract of employment if your employees are not covered by an award. This will act to protect your business and your employees' entitlements.

Most workers are paid for public holidays, except for contract workers and casual employees who are paid only for hours worked. For most workers (except those previously mentioned), other paid leave should include annual leave, personal/carer’s leave and long service leave.

If a modern award or agreement applies to your employees, there may be additional leave and pay arrangement entitlements for staff on public holidays.

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