min read
· Posted on
February 21, 2024

How TF do I read my payslip?

You get your payslip every fortnight or every month, but what are all the different numbers on there and what do they mean?

What's the key learning?

  • The main elements of a payslip
  • Understanding tax and PAYG
  • Understanding the STSL component
  • Superannuation and eligibility
  • Leave entitlements

At school, we (try to) learn algebra and Pythagoras’ theorem, but did we ever learn about payslips?! Ya know, those physical or digital slips that help you check if your boss is short-changing you.

Before we get into how to read your payslip, let’s look at an example payslip, so we’re on the same page about what we’re talking about.

So this is what a standard payslip looks like from a Xero - which is used by over 100,000 Australian businesses for their accounting. 

They don’t all look the same so you might notice some differences in your personal payslip, but they all contain the same core information.

First, the basics (1):

Your payslip should have: 

  • your name and address, 
  • your employer’s name and address, 
  • your employment type, 
  • the payment period.

Your income (2):

This is the number we like the most - it’s how much dough you’ve made in your pay period. 

BTW, YTD = “year to date” which is how much you’ve earned in this financial year.

Tax (3):

Next comes tax.

This section, which usually says PAYG will lay out how much tax has been automatically deducted from your payslip by your employer.

PAYG or “pay as you go” is a tax payment system that the ATO (Australian Tax Office) set up so you can pay your taxes on-the-go.

Each pay period, your employer will withhold a bit of your salary on your behalf and pay it to the ATO. 

At the end of the financial year, when you need to do your tax return, you can see whether you’ve paid extra tax or not enough.

Just a heads up: You might have an STSL (Study and Training Support Loans) component here too if you’ve got a student loan such as HELP or HECS. 

For example, if you have a HELP or HECS student loan, your employer will often withhold an additional portion of your salary and pay it to the ATO on your behalf.

How much? Well, that depends on how much you’re earning. You can see the breakdown here.

Super (4):

Next, if you are eligible (over 18 or under 18 but working over 30 hrs a week), you’ll have a section in your payslip that goes towards your superannuation. 

Your employer has to pay at least 10.5% of your income to your superannuation - which is $$ put aside for you to access in retirement.

Leave (5):

If you’re a part time or full time employee, you’re entitled to leave benefits. You should be able to see your leave balance in your payslip.

The final checks:

If you notice something not quite right about your payslip, or have questions you can always have a chat to your employer about what’s going on.

And if you’re struggling to get to the bottom of it with your employer, hit up the FairWork Ombudsman to take the issue further.

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