The Starter Kit
Members of the Australian Services Union benefit from information, advice and representation in relation to employment conditions. But before you even start your job it’s useful to have a basic understanding about what you’re getting yourself into.
The Kit for ASU Student Members is designed to help you make informed decisions before you start your new job.
We’ve picked out some of the main things to look out for in a contract. The Kit contains general information and advice, for more information or clarifications call our Member Assistance Line on 02 9310 4000 and ask to speak with an organiser.
Your Employment Contract
An employment contract is an agreement between you and your employer that sets out terms and conditions of employment. A contract may be either written or verbal but in employment situations, it’s important that the contract is in writing so you can be certain about your entitlements. A contract contains some of your rights and conditions but many more can be found in the Award, an Enterprise Agreement, the National Employment Standards, the Fair Work Act, and the Workplace Health and Safety Act.
The Social Community Home Care And Disability Services (SCHADS) Award or an Enterprise Agreement
Your contract should refer you to either the SCHADS Award or your local Enterprise Agreement as containing your minimum conditions and pay.
The SCHADS Award outlines the minimum conditions and pay of workers in the disability and community sectors. However some organisations will have an Enterprise Agreement (EA) which will operate instead of the Award.
The SCHADS Award and EAs can be found on the Fair Work Australia website. You can also find these by asking your union delegate.
Minimum employment period (also known as “Probation”)
You will be on ‘probation’ for the first six months of your employment (or 12 months if your employer employs less than 15 employees). This is the period in which you and your employer make assessments about whether you will continue on in the role permanently.
Fixed Term Employment
Some contracts are for a ‘fixed term’. For example the contract will only guarantee your employment for six months, one year or two years. Your employment will cease when the contract runs out unless your employer offers you either a further fixed term contract or a permanent position.
The most secure contracts have ‘permanent’ employment. This means you can expect to be employed on an ongoing basis unless your employment is terminated through resignation, redundancy or dismissal.
Full time, Part time, and Casual
Your contract should include if you are employed on a full time, part time or casual basis. A Full Time contract generally means you’ll be employed 38 hours per week within a regular pattern of hours. A Part Time contract will have fewer hours, but the number of hours and the days and times that you work these hours should be written in the contract.
Both full time and part time employees receive access to holidays; such as annual and personal leave. You can find information about holidays in the National Employment Standards.
A Casual contract means there is no obligation on your employer to provide regular hours so your employer can change your roster at any time. Casual employees have the right to refuse shifts. Casual employees generally receive more pay (a 25% loading) than full or part time workers to make up for the loss of leave entitlements. Casual employees who have worked at least six months on a regular basis have a number of rights under the Fair Work Act – ask your union delegate for more details.
Hours of Work and Location
Unless you are a casual employee, your contract should set out your minimum hours of work. For full and part time employees, these will be your guaranteed hours, and your employer is required to ensure you are rostered for at least these hours. Part time employees might find that they are rostered for additional hours but they can't be rostered for less.
Usually a contract will also state your work location. This means that any work you perform outside of this location should be by agreement. However some contracts may state that an employer can direct an employee to work at other locations. Any direction must be reasonable.
Classifications and Your Pay
Your contract should tell you your job’s classification, which determines your minimum pay rate. Your classification is determined by the type of work you will do. There are 8 classifications in the SCHADS Award, and different EAs many have different classification structures, but these must refer back to Award classifications.
Your contract may also contain specific workplace policies such as codes of conduct, and requirements for declaring secondary employment. In most workplaces, policies are determined by the employer and are subject to change. In union-friendly workplaces policies are determined by employers and union members working together.
Union members won the conditions that we now think of as normal - like leave and allowances and shift penalties. So it's union membership that has and will maintain and improve workplace conditions in our sector.
When you’re an ASU member, you’re never alone at work. You can receive further information and advice on your rights and conditions, and are part of an active network of members who support each other at work.