Getting a job in Australia - Useful terms to know

Sharon Swift
11 April, 2016
Probation period – this is an opportunity at the start of your employment for both you or your employer to terminate the contract for any reason. Depending on the circumstances, this can range from one to six months. The standard for a full-time role is usually three months. 
Notice period – this is the period the employer or employee must give as notice before employment can be terminated. This is generally one month once the probation period has passed; it can be more or less depending on the role and circumstances. 
Salary sacrifice/packaging – this varies according to circumstances and the specific arrangement. Generally, it is a benefit in exchange for the monetary value/salary, thus, the employee has a lower taxable income. 
Novated car lease – usually part of a salary sacrifice arrangement, the cost of a car lease can be deducted by the employer from the employee’s pre-tax income. 
Parental leave – by law, employees who have served 12 months continuously with their employer are permitted to take leave when a new child is born or adopted. Either parent can be considered the primary carer and is entitled to 18 weeks’ parental leave pay if their individual taxable income is less than AU$150,000. The employer is obliged to hold their job, or a similar role, open, at the same salary level for 12 months. The secondary carer is entitled to two weeks’ pay at the minimum wage for leave taken to spend time with the new arrival. Employers, of course, have their own benefit policies so may offer more than the legal requirement: in paid allowance, the number of months a job will be held open to await the return of the employee, allowance for the secondary carer, and so on. This is currently a hot topic in Australia as the legal minimum is low in relation to some countries. It is subject to change and variance, depending on the employer. For more information on this, visit 
Annual leave – the legal minimum for those in full-time employment is 20 days. In general terms, employees can take their leave when reasonable and agreed with their employer. Note that many corporates will shut down for a period over Christmas and New Year (‘Annual Shut Down’), and can direct employees to take this time from their annual leave allowance. This can be complicated, as paid leave is accrued in Australia and can’t be taken unless it is ‘banked up’. Many industries and jobs are subject to different minimum conditions and varying rulings may apply. It is, therefore, best to check with Fair Work Australia in conjunction with your employer on this one. 
Long service leave – this is paid leave which can be taken after ten years’ continuous service with one employer. Essentially a short sabbatical, this can vary by state and is usually around eight weeks in duration. 
Flexible working – a hot topic of the past few years, some employers offer options such as working from home or flexibility with office/working hours. This is generally subject to the employer’s discretion, length of tenure, and other personal circumstances. 
Personal/carer’s leave – this is essentially sick leave and can be used for oneself, or to care for an immediate family member who is sick or has an unexpected emergency. For 
those in full-time employment, the paid legal entitlement is ten days per year. This is normally pro rata for those working part-time. 

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