Workplace rights

Job offers and employment contracts

If an employer offers you a job and you accept, you will be entering into an employment contract. These can include:

  • agreements that include collective agreements, Australian workplace agreements and individual transitional employment agreements
  • verbal agreements made with your employer – these can be legally binding but difficult to prove if not in writing
  • documents signed by both you and your employer
  • letters of engagement or letters of offer
  • fixed-term contracts for jobs that finish at a specific date on completion of a project
  • ongoing contracts for continued employment, or until you or the employer want it to end
  • secondments for a temporary transfer to a different job within the same organisation.

What should be in a contract?

A written contract will usually include:

Before you sign

Get a copy of the contract for your records and before signing.

  • Read it carefully.
  • Get advice or ask the employer to clarify anything you don't understand.
  • Discuss any concerns and negotiate what you want changed.

Consider job offers carefully. If you accept an offer and then change your mind, an employer can take legal action.

Get free legal advice on employment contracts and verbal agreements from:

Hours of work

You should not have to work more than the maximum weekly working hours, unless the additional hours are reasonable.

For international students, check how many hours a week you can work on your visa with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP).

Taking time off work

Depending on your type of employment, you are entitled to certain time off work:

Safety at work

You have the right to a safe workplace. These websites have information to help you understand your safety rights at work:

Practices to be aware of

Not all employers are reputable. You should be aware of illegal and unfair work practices, for example:

Ending your job

When you want to quit

You should give notice if you want to resign. The amount of notice you must give is usually in your employment contract. If you are unsure, call the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.

Resign professionally as this will affect your future job options. Find out more on how to quit with style.

When your employer wants you to leave

  • You can be fired if you engage in misconduct such as stealing, fraud, violence or serious breaches of workplace procedure.
  • Your position can be made redundant if the job you do is no longer needed, or the business goes bankrupt.

You should be aware of notice periods.

  • Your employer must give you a certain amount of notice before they end your employment. In most cases, this must be done in writing.
  • If an employer terminates your position without giving notice, they should pay you equal or more than the amount of pay you would have received for working to the end of the notice period.
  • Casual and seasonal positions can be terminated without notice.

There are situations where an employer cannot fire you. See:

Resources