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Getting Paid and Underpayments

All employees are entitled to a minimum rate of pay. You may be paid a higher rate of pay under your employment contract but it is unlawful to be paid at a rate below the applicable minimum rate for your work.

Most employees have their minimum wages and casual loadings set and adjusted by the Fair Work Commission (FWC). FWC has the power to set and adjust:

  • The Federal Minimum Wage (for employees not covered by a Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement).
  • Rates of pay for employees covered by Modern Awards.
  • Special federal minimum wages for junior employees, apprentices and trainees and employees with disabilities.

Your minimum wage could also be set by an Enterprise Agreement, which is a collective agreement made between an employer and a number of its employees.

Generally, an employer cannot deduct amounts from your wages without your prior written consent. Your employer may make a deduction from your wages if:

  • you have given your employer written authorisation (see below) to make the deduction and the deduction is principally for your benefit; or
  • your applicable Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement allows your employer to make the deduction or you have authorised the deduction in accordance with that Award/Agreement — so long as the deduction is reasonable; or
  • a law, court order or a Fair Work Commission order authorises your employer to make the deduction.

When you are paid less than the minimum wage rates or don’t receive other employment entitlements, this is called an underpayment. Other employment entitlements that can be claimed through the Fair Work system include:

  • Leave and termination payments, such as for untaken annual leave, pay in lieu of notice and redundancy pay.
  • Any payments owing under a Modern Award or Enterprise Agreement, such as allowances, loadings etc.
  • Superannuation, if you are entitled to it under a Modern Award, Enterprise Agreement or employment contract.
  • Entitlements under an employment contract on a subject matter that is covered by the National Employment Standards (NES), or that may be covered by an Award (regardless of whether you are covered by an Award), such as wages, commissions, allowances and leave payments.
  • Payment for untaken long service leave, but only if you are entitled to long service leave under an Enterprise Agreement or employment contract, under a preserved pre-Modern Award entitlement, or if you are claiming long service leave under state legislation along with other federal entitlements.

If you are being underpaid, or not paid at all, for any of these entitlements, you can take steps to recover the money that is owed to you. These steps are summarised in the attached infosheet. You have 6 years from when the payment became due to file a claim in court for the amount owed to you.

For more information about rates of pay, entitlements, superannuation, payslips and underpayments, download the full fact sheet.

For further support

Call our Telephone Information Service on Melbourne Metro (03) 9662 1933 or Regional Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania on 1800 331 617.

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