Awards and agreements
When a business has a registered agreement in place and it covers the work that the employee does, then the minimum pay and conditions in the agreement will apply.
If there’s no registered agreement that applies and an award covers the business and the work the employee does, then the minimum pay and conditions in the award will apply.
There are 122 industry and occupation awards that cover most people working in Australia, which means many employees who aren’t covered by an agreement will most likely be covered by an award.
Where no award or agreement applies, the minimum pay and conditions in the legislation will apply.
Test your knowledge about awards and agreements in The Fair Work Ombudsman's (FWO) Workplace Basics quiz .
In this section...
Awards (modern awards) are legal documents that outline the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment.
There are 122 industry or occupation awards that cover most people who work in Australia.
Enterprise agreements and other registered agreements set out minimum employment conditions and can apply to:
- one business
- a group of businesses, or
- an individual employee (but these types of agreements can’t be made anymore).
When a workplace has a registered agreement, the award doesn’t apply. However:
- the base pay rate in the registered agreement can’t be less than the base pay rate in the award
- the National Employment Standards still apply
- any terms about outworkers in the award still apply.
Registered agreements apply until they are terminated or replaced.
An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and employee that sets out terms and conditions of employment. A contract can be in writing or verbal.
Can a contract provide for less than the legal minimums?
An employment contract cannot provide for less than the legal minimum set out in:
- the National Employment Standards (NES)
- awards, enterprise agreements or other registered agreements that may apply.
All employees are covered by the NES, regardless of whether they’ve signed a contract. A contract can’t make employees worse off than their minimum legal entitlements.
Getting help with employment contracts
We can give advice about the legal minimums in an employment contract. You will need to contact a lawyer for advice about any other terms and conditions in the contract.
Find out where to get legal advice .
Think a mistake might have been made about the legal minimums in a contract?
Mistakes can happen. The best way to fix them usually starts with talking.
Check out the FWO's help resolving workplace issues section for practical advice on:
- figuring out if a mistake has been made
- talking to your employer or employee about fixing it
- getting help from us if you still can't resolve it.
Most employees are covered by an award or registered agreement , but a few jobs and industries are not.
When an employee is not covered by an award or agreement they are considered to be award and agreement free. Award and agreement free employees may have an employment contract. They are also entitled to at least the:
On this page find out:
- how to check if an employee is award and agreement free:
- minimum wages and conditions for employees who are award and agreement free:
Need more information?
For further information, advice or assistance please contact the ABCC at 1800 003 338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.