A full-time employee:

  • works, on average, around 38 hours per week
  • usually works regular hours each week
  • has fully paid leave entitlements
  • is a permanent employee or on a fixed-term contract

A part-time employee:

  • works, on average, less than 38 hours per week.
  • usually works regular hours each week.
  • is entitled to the same benefits as a full-time employee, at a partial rate corresponding to the proportion of full-time hours they work.
  • has paid leave entitlements.
  • is a permanent employee or on a fixed-term contract.

A casual employee:

  • has no guaranteed hours of work.
  • usually works irregular hours (but can work regular hours).
  • doesn’t get paid sick or annual leave, but receive a higher hourly rate than full-time or part-time employees.
  • can end employment without notice, unless notice is required by a registered agreement, award or employment contract.


The National Employment Standards (NES) provide a “safety net” of employment conditions for most Australian employees.

The NES are set out in Part 2-2 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and comprise 10 minimum employment entitlements covering all employees working in Australia who come under the national workplace relations system. The NES, together with modern awards, make up the safety net of minimum terms and conditions of employment for all employees in the national system.

The 10 minimum entitlements of the NES are:

  • Maximum weekly hours
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements
  • Parental leave and related entitlements
  • Annual leave
  • Personal/carer's leave, compassionate leave and unpaid family and domestic violence leave
  • Community service leave
  • Long service leave
  • Public holidays
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay
  • Fair Work Information Statement

More information on the NES is here.

Registered agreements

Enterprise agreements and other registered agreements set out minimum employment conditions and can apply to one or more organisations. When a workplace has a registered agreement an award does not apply to that workplace. However the following points should be noted:

  • The base pay in the registered agreement cannot be less than the applicable base award rate
  • The pay and terms and conditions in the agreement cannot be less favourable than those contained in the National Employment Standards.

Registered agreements apply until they are terminated or replaced.


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. Awards usually provide pay rates for employees in the various occupations in a particular industry covered by that award. There may be many companies in that particular industry that will be covered by that award. An employer can pay an employee above the wage rate specified in the award, but cannot pay below that rate.

Awards that apply to health organisations include:

  • Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services Award 2010
  • Aged Care Award 2010
  • Ambulance and Patient Transport Industry Award 2010
  • Banking, Finance and Insurance Award 2010
  • Cleaning Services Award 2010
  • Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award 2010
  • Gardening and Landscaping Services Award 2010
  • Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010
  • Medical Practitioners Award 2010
  • Nurses Award 2010
  • Pharmacy Industry Award 2010
  • Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010

Help finding the right award(s) that covers your employees can be found at Fair Work – Awards

Employer contracts

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. It cannot provide for less than the legal minimum entitlements set out in the National Employment Standards, or awards, or enterprise agreements or other registered agreements that may apply.

More information about Employment Contracts can be found at: Fair Work - Employment Contracts

Independent contracting

Independent contractors run their own business. They usually negotiate their own fees and working arrangements and can work for more than one client at a time.

Independent contractors have different obligations and rights to employees because they are running their own business.

Sham contracting

Sham contracting is where a person who is working as an employee is regarded to be an independent contractor when he/she is not, even if they are treated as an independent contractor in some ways, such as asked to obtain their own Australian Business Number and to submit invoices.

Sham contracting is illegal. It is illegal to:

  • Claim an employee is an independent contractor.
  • Say something false to convince an employee to become an independent contractor.
  • Dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee if he/she doesn’t become an independent contractor.
  • Dismiss an employee and then hire him/her as an independent contractor to do the same work they were doing as an employee.

It is therefore important to understand the factors that taken together will determine whether the worker is an employee or an independent contractor, which are outlined at: Fair Work - Independent Contractors.