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Award wages

We all know that some people get paid more than others. But why is this so? How is your pay rate worked out? Who says who gets what? These are big questions that employers, unions and governments have spent over a century arguing about!

Australia has work rules that guarantee all employees some basic rights and spell out important things like pay rates, work hours and holidays.

Award wages

Many jobs are covered by a set of rules called an Industrial Award. The Award is set by Fair Work Australia. The Award grants all wage earners in an industry the same minimum conditions of employment and wages.

The Award sets the minimum rate of pay for new employees right up to the most experienced and skilled workers. Many Awards will have ‘junior’ rates for employees less than 21 years of age.

First job fact
Your pay must be paid at least the minimum rate in the award for your industry – it can be more, but it can’t be less.

Beyond awards

There is an industrial award for almost every job – but there are also some agreements that are worked out specifically for an enterprise or individual – but these must not result in employees getting less pay or conditions than the award.

Enterprise agreements

This is like an ‘award’ created for just one company. Enterprise agreements are registered with Fair Work Australia and must be at least equal to the Award.