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Words And Definitions

Workplace words and definitions
A legal document that sets conditions of employment for workers employed in a particular type of work. It covers things like hours of work, rest breaks, allowances, penalty rates (for working overtime or on weekends) and redundancy pay. There are thousands of Awards in Australia e.g. there are separate Awards for employees working in shops, child care centres, schools and offices where clerical staff are employed. 

A worker who is generally not entitled to paid personal leave or paid annual leave but gets paid up to 20 per cent more for each hour of work. Casual workers do not have the same guarantee of regular work as permanent employees. Sometimes their shifts change each week and sometimes their shifts will not change. A casual worker's hours may vary from only a few hours, e.g. five per week to full-time hours, e.g. 38 per week.

Collective Agreement
A collective agreement is sometimes also called an EBA (or Enterprise Bargaining Agreement). It is a federal workplace agreement that covers a group of workers together with the employer. All employees to be covered by the agreement must be given a reasonable opportunity to decide whether they want to approve the agreement, and this decision can be taken by a vote or other method. Like an AWA, a collective agreement commences to operate when it is lodged with the Workplace Authority and it will set out your terms and conditions of employment (e.g. how much you should be paid and other entitlements such as how much annual leave you get). If there is an existing collective agreement at your workplace it will most likely automatically cover your employment.

Common law employment contract
An employee's terms and conditions may be agreed with an employer in writing or verbally and these conditions form part of the employee's common law employment contract. A common law employment contract cannot provide terms and conditions that are lower than those provided by legislation or an applicable industrial instrument, such as a workplace agreement or an award.

Independent Contractor
Will generally be a worker who is self-employed and operates their own business. They usually give the person they are working for an ABN, organise their own insurance and tax, negotiate their rate of pay and supply their own tools. They will usually be paid for specific results achieved rather than receive a wage. The person they are working for will not give paid personal leave or annual leave. Independent contractors are not covered by the Workplace Relations Act 1996.

Permanent full-time
A worker who works an average of 38 hours a week and gets paid personal leave and paid annual leave.

Permanent part-time
A worker who works less than an average of 38 hours a week, e.g. 12 hours a week, and gets paid personal leave and paid annual leave.

Other common workplace words Induction
The time at the beginning of a new job when you are shown around, taught about your job and introduced to everyone at work.

A set period at the beginning of a new job which lets you and your employer decide if the job is suitable for you. Probation usually goes for three months.


A timetable that tells you what your days and hours of work will be each week.

Pay slip
A written record that shows how much you have been paid for a period of work. It includes the hourly or annual rate of pay you receive, any other payments you have received such as loadings or penalty rates, and any deductions that have been taken out of your pay (such as taxes and superannuation). If you are paid an hourly rate of pay, the pay slip also includes how many hours you have worked. Your employer must give you a pay slip each time you are paid.

The person at work who tells you what to do and makes sure you are doing your work properly. This is who you would ask if you have any questions about your job.

When the employer asks you to work for a short period, e.g. one shift or one week, to test if you are right for the job. If you do a trial you must be paid for any work that you did. Sometimes this term is used instead of probation.


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