min read
· Posted on
February 21, 2024

Minimum wage and awards - know what you're owed

The basics about wage no one told you about in your first job!

What's the key learning?

  • What does minimum wage mean?
  • What's the current minimum wage?
  • What is a modern award?

Being employed in your first job or first couple of jobs can be confusing AF. You might not know what you should be getting paid, what you’re entitled to, or even who to ask to find out.

It can be a misty experience trying to make sense of the money side of things in your first couple of jobs - and it’s important to demystify it all.

What does minimum wage mean and what is it at currently?

A minimum wage is the base rate an employee should be paid for hours worked. It’s set by the peeps up at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and they review it each year.

They put together a document called the national minimum wage order which outlines a minimum wage for adults, trainees, apprentices, juniour employees, employees with disabilities etc.

The current minimum wage nationally is $21.38 per hour or $812.60 per 38 hour week (before tax) for adults.

If you’re a casual employee, you get a 25% casual loading on top.

The national minimum wage outline applies to “award and agreement-free employees.”

Sorry what??

What’s an Award?

So there’s this thing called a Modern Award and it’s a document which sets out minimum employment standards for a specific industry or sector.

That includes all the juicy info you want to know before you start a new role like:

  • Minimum rates of pay (cha-ching)
  • Expected hours (so ya know when to clock-off)
  • Leave entitlements (gotta plan that next Bali trip amirite?)
  • Penalty rates and allowances (Xmas bonus yes pls!)

You can actually find a full list of modern awards here

Modern awards usually set standards that are higher than the minimums and almost all workplaces and jobs are covered by an award but not every role is covered by an award.

You might have been sent a copy of the award that covers your employment when you started your job. 

It’s always a good idea to be clear on what your workplace offers you under your employment.

If you’re not sure or can’t remember, go back through your initial employment docs or ask the human resources department at your workplace.

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