Know your minimum wage
The minimum wage is your bread and butter, no matter which industry you’re in.
You absolutely cannot be paid less than the minimum wage and any employer who does is breaking the law.
Every industry has its own Award and its own specific minimum wage rates – the retail industry for example has the General Retail Award, and the fast food sector has the Fast Food Industry Award.
Awards are legal documents so compare your payslips with what is written in the award to make sure you’re getting your dues.
And if your employer isn’t providing pay slips – huge red flag. But that’s where your union can help.
Juice the dollars out of weekends
If you’re a casual worker – you’re certainly not alone – many students need the flexibility to slot work around studying.
But wages work differently for casuals than for part-time or full-time workers.
Normally casual workers receive 25% extra loading on top of the base rate (again, the award is your friend here).
The purpose of this loading is to compensate for the lack of entitlements such as sick leave or annual leave that exist for permanent workers.
Casual workers also receive penalty rates – these are extra payments on top of the regular wage.
They’re meant to compensate for hours spent working at inconvenient times, like when you work overtime, at night, on the weekend or on a public holiday.
Check your award for the exact penalty rates you can get, but generally public holidays provide some of the best rates.
Join your union
Just because awards are legal documents doesn’t mean all bosses follow the rules.
Bad employers know students are often in a tight spot when it comes to affording basics like rent and food so they may exploit that to their advantage.
But unions exist to protect workers from exploitative behaviour and actually ensure workers can earn wages far higher than the minimum.
On average, union members earn $250 more per week than non-union members.
(Seriously. And we’ve got over 100 years of history to show for it).
Across all industries and workplaces, almost two-million workers in unions across Australia continue to negotiate higher pay to ensure all members get their fair share.
Join your union today and make it happen.