What Should I Check Before Signing An Employment Contract?

Congratulations on your job offer! But before you sign your new employment contract and start celebrating, it is important to understand the terms of your employment.  

Here we’ll outline the key things you should look for.

Your Rights and Entitlements

Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), all employees in Australia are entitled to the National Minimum Wage and the National Employment Standard (NES). Regardless of the award, registered agreement or employment contract, all employees are covered. 

Under the NES, there are 11 minimum employment entitlements that must be provided to all employees. These include entitlements such as hours of work, leave and notice of termination. 

Awards vs Enterprise Agreements 

Depending on your area of employment, your position may be covered by either an award or an enterprise agreement.  

Both awards and enterprise agreements set out wages and conditions of employment. An award sets out the terms and conditions of the employment to the employee. Most awards cover a whole industry or an occupation. 

An enterprise agreement is often similar to an award, except they cover a specific business or businesses.  

Some jobs may not be covered by an award or enterprise agreement but would still entitle an employee to the National Minimum Wage and NES.  

Working Hours and Overtime

Your employment contract should specify your working hours and overtime. Under the NES, the maximum working hours for a full-time employee is 38 hours.  

Your contract should specify expected working hours. This will depend on whether you have been hired on a full-time, part-time, or casual basis. It should also detail whether your employer can request you to work additional hours and how you would be compensated for those hours.  

Leave Entitlements and Requirements

The NES entitles employees to a minimum annual leave of 20 days and personal leave of 10 days for any full-time, permanent position, with permanent part-time positions pro-rata. This varies for employees hired for casual positions.  


When you start a new job, you may be required to complete a probation period. 

This probation period allows both the employer and the employee to determine whether the employee is suitable for the role they have been hired. As an employee on probation you’re entitled to the minimum wage and receive their NES entitlements. 


Your pay (i.e. remuneration) must be stated in your employment contract. If you are not part of an award/enterprise agreement, you must be paid at least the National Minimum Wage.  


Depending on your period of continuous service, the NES entitles you to a notice period of up to 5 weeks. Your employment contract should specify the reason for termination, together with the minimum amount of notice your employer is required to give. Note that employers are not required to provide a notice of termination to casual employees and employees on probation.  

Contact W Legal Group

For more information on employment contracts, call the W Legal Group office to speak to our friendly team, or send us an email at hello@wlegalgroup.com.au

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