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An Employee’s Guide to Understanding Your Rights and Entitlements

An Employee’s Guide to Understanding Your Rights and Entitlements

As an employee, it is important to know your workplace rights and entitlements when it comes to matters concerning pay, conditions, health and safety, and workplace bullying. Thankfully, all employees enjoy extensive workplace privileges under Australian law, such as legal protection and unfair dismissal. To better understand what your rights as an employee are, we have put together an article entailing everything you need to know. If you’re unsure about your rights, we highly encourage you to keep on reading—you’ll never know when this information will come in handy!

What Is My Employer Responsible For?

Under Australian law, employers are legally required to provide basic employee entitlements including:

  • Minimum wage and rates of pay
  • Safe and suitable employment conditions
  • Workplace health and safety measures
  • A workplace free from bullying, discrimination and harassment
  • Adequate notice in the event of termination and as stated in the employee contract

It is absolutely crucial that both employees and employers be aware of laws relating to employment. Employees should be fully familiarized of their rights in the workplace, including entitlements or conditions under which they may be terminated. If you are having doubts about whether you have been treated fairly, it is always encouraged that you reach out to legal services for employees in your area to find out more about the legal actions and steps you can take against your employer. Whether you’re an employee, contractor or sub-contractor, it is important that you get the right advice sooner rather than later if you think your rights and entitlements are not being met.

On the flip side, employers should also be fully aware of these conditions to minimize potential costly legal procedures in the event that a mistake is made when an employee is terminated.

What Am I Responsible For?

As a worker or employee, you too are responsible for a variety of factors that may include:

  • Understanding the conditions of your employment as per agreed upon in your employment contract
  • Understanding rate of pay, working hours, annual leave and entitlements to any other type of leave
  • Working in a way that does not cause harm to yourself or fellow employees
  • Not engaging in any behavior that may be categorized as discriminatory, bullying or harassment
  • Have access to appropriate safety gear and equipment, as well as knowing the protocols in the  event of an accident
  • Know your rights in regards to discrimination and bullying. You should also know what actions to take if you experience or witness this in your workplace
  • Knowing what to do if your employer fails to meet your rights and entitlements

Have I Been Unfairly Dismissed?

One of the most common situations employees may find themselves in is wondering if they have been unfairly dismissed. To understand if this may be what you are going through, here are some factors that may point towards an unfair dismissal. Do note that employees found to have been unfairly dismissed by the Fair Work Commission are entitled to extensive remedies under the Fair Work Act 2009.

  • Your dismissal was unreasonably harsh, unjust or inappropriate in the circumstances
  • There was no misconduct on your part
  • You were forced to resign because of something your employer did
  • You were dismissed but not due to genuine redundancy
  • Your employer fails to provide an appropriate reason for your dismissal
  • Dismissal occurred in contravention of the Small Business Fair Dismissal Code

If you find yourself a victim of one or more of the above, you may be able to make an application to the Fair Work Commission under either unfair dismissal or general protection dismissal laws. It is important to note that applications must be received by the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of your dismissal taking effect.


Knowing your rights and entitlements as an employee is one of the most important things you can do to prevent workplace problems. Furthermore, workplace rights protect employees from potentially harmful events such as discrimination, bullying or unsafe work conditions. If you require further information or assistance on the matter, be sure to reach out to an experienced employment lawyer who will be able to guide you through the process of applying for unfair dismissal.

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by Lottie Pritchard // Lottie Pritchard is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.