Secure Jobs, Better Pay: changes to Australian workplace laws

The Fair Work Act has been amended to include a range of new workplace laws. This may affect the information on this page.

Find out more at Secure Jobs, Better Pay: Changes to Australian workplace laws.

If you have employees, it’s important to be sure you’re paying them correctly.

Employees need to be paid money for their work – they can’t be paid with goods.

An employee’s minimum pay rate can come from an award, enterprise agreement or other registered agreement, or the national minimum wage (if no award or registered agreement applies). It may also include penalty rates (higher pay for working extended hours or on weekends for example) and allowances.

Use our Pay Calculator to check what the minimum pay rates for your employees are, including any penalty rates and allowances that apply.

What should employees be paid for?

Your employees have to be paid for all time worked, including:

  • training
  • attending team meetings
  • opening and closing the business
  • working trial shifts.

There are very limited circumstances, such as student placements, where work may be unpaid. For more information on these arrangements see our Unpaid work section.

How often should you pay employees?

Most awards will outline how often employees should be paid – generally it will be weekly or fortnightly, and must be at least monthly. 

You also have to give your employees their pay slip within 1 working day of being paid (even if they’re on leave). Find out more about Pay slips and record-keeping obligations.

Deductions and overpayments

As a general rule, you’re not allowed to make deductions from an employee’s pay. This applies even in situations such as where they’ve broken work equipment or if they have shortages in their till (in jobs where they handle money).

An employer can only deduct money if:

  • the employee agrees in writing and it’s principally for their benefit
  • it’s allowed by a law, a court order, or by the Fair Work Commission, or
  • it’s allowed under the employee’s award, or
  • it’s allowed under the employee’s registered agreement and the employee agrees to it.

An example of a legal deduction is a salary sacrifice arrangement.

If you’ve accidentally overpaid your employee, you shouldn’t make a deduction from their next pay. Instead, you should discuss the overpayment with your employee and get an agreement in writing, which states the:

  • reason for the overpayment
  • amount to be paid back.

Learn more about Deductions and overpayments.  

Resources for paying employees