Use our Glossary for an explanation of the legal terms, services and organisations mentioned on this website.

Glossary List

  • Acquiescence
    If your employer tries to change the conditions of your employment and you go along with this, then you may be viewed as having accepted the change, even if you never said that you accepted it. This is known as … Continued
  • Adverse action
    Put simply, “adverse action” is where an employer does something that affects your employment in a negative way. An employer takes “adverse action” against you if they: • refuse to employ you; • offer you different employment conditions compared to … Continued
  • Annual leave
    Annual leave is a minimum entitlement for all permanent employees in Western Australia. Annual leave is an entitlement to take paid time off work and is sometimes called “holiday pay” or “recreation leave”. All permanent employees in Western Australia are … Continued
  • Australian Human Rights Commission
    The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is an independent organisation established to promote and protect human rights in Australia in a number of areas of public life, including employment. The AHRC regulates national equal opportunity laws. For more information, you … Continued
  • Awards and industrial agreements
    Awards An award is a legal document that sets out minimum conditions of employment for employees in a specific occupation or industry. For example, if you work as a hairdresser in the national system of employment laws you might be … Continued
  • Base rate of pay
    Your base rate of pay is the wage you are entitled to for ordinary hours of work. Generally, it does not include commissions and bonuses, loadings, allowances, overtime or penalty rates.
  • Bullying
    Workplace bullying is repeated, unreasonable or inappropriate behaviour directed towards a worker, or a group of workers. In some cases, workplace bullying can be a risk to health and safety. Some workplace bullying may involve verbal abuse and physical violence. … Continued
  • Casual employee
    A casual employee is an employee who works on a temporary, irregular or uncertain basis. This is unlike a permanent employee who has regular hours of work and a reasonable expectation of ongoing employment. A casual employee does not receive … Continued
  • Coercion
    Coercion is the use of illegitimate force or threats to compel someone to do something.
  • Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth)
    The Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) is a national law that regulates commercial competition and consumer rights. This law also makes it unlawful for an employer to mislead a potential employee when offering work, for example by changing advertised … Continued
  • Constitutional corporation
    A constitutional corporation is a financial, trading or foreign corporation under the Australian Constitution. For an organisation to be a trading corporation it has to: • be incorporated; AND • engage in significant financial or trading activities. Note that it’s … Continued
  • Constructive dismissal/constructively dismissed
    If you are forced to resign because of the actions of your employer, you may have been constructively dismissed. The legal effect of a constructive dismissal is that you can make a dismissal-based claim such as an unfair dismissal or … Continued
  • Continuously employed/continuous service
    Continuous service is the length of time you have worked for an employer. This is relevant to certain rights and entitlements. For example, you need to have been continuously employed for 12 months to be eligible for parental leave. The … Continued
  • Contractual wage
    A contractual wage is the wage that you and your employer have agreed you will be paid, and which forms a part of your employment contract. This agreement is often in writing but it can also be verbal, or even … Continued
  • Costs orders and no costs
    Generally, if you take legal action against someone and you lose, the court or commission will order you to pay for some or all of the costs of the other party (the person you took the legal action against). However, … Continued
  • Date the dismissal took effect
    Limitation periods for claims involving dismissal usually begin when the dismissal “takes effect”. Generally a dismissal takes effect from the time the employee stops working, not the time that he or she is notified of the dismissal. So, if the … Continued
  • Disability
    According to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth), a disability is: • a total or partial loss of a person’s bodily or mental functions; • a total or partial loss of a part of the body; • the presence in … Continued
  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth)
    The Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth) is a national law which provides protection from discrimination based on a disability, or discrimination based on being a relative, carer, co-worker or associate of a person with a disability. All national laws can … Continued
  • Disciplinary action
    Disciplinary action is action taken by an employer against an employee to address alleged poor conduct or performance. Common types of disciplinary action are warnings, demotions, suspensions (whether paid or unpaid) and dismissal.
  • Discrimination/Discriminate
    Discrimination occurs when a person is treated less favourably than another person, in the same or similar circumstances. Discrimination includes indirect discrimination, which occurs when a rule or requirement has the effect of disadvantaging a person our group of persons, … Continued
  • Dismissal
    An employee is dismissed when the employer ends the employment relationship. This is commonly referred to as “being fired”. In most cases a dismissal involves an employer expressly telling an employee that they are no longer employed (or will no … Continued
  • Employment contract
    An employment contract is the legal agreement made between you and your employer that sets out the terms and conditions of employment. All employees have employment contracts, even where nothing has been written down or signed. Employment contracts can be … Continued
  • Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA)
    The Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA) is a Western Australian law which makes it unlawful to discriminate against a person in certain areas of public life, including employment. All state laws can be accessed from the State Law Publisher’s website … Continued
  • Equal Opportunity Commission
    The Equal Opportunity Commission is a state body established to address and reduce discrimination in Western Australia in a number of areas of public life, including employment. The Equal Opportunity Commission’s role is set out under the Equal Opportunity Act … Continued
  • Equal opportunity laws
    Equal opportunity laws protect against discrimination in a number of areas of public life, including employment. In Western Australia the main equal opportunity law is the state Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA). There are also a number of national equal … Continued
  • Fair Entitlements Guarantee assistance scheme
    The Fair Entitlements Guarantee assistance scheme is a national government program to assist employees where an employer becomes insolvent. If an insolvent employer can’t pay out owing entitlements, employees may be able to get some or all of their entitlements … Continued
  • Fair Trading Act 2010 (WA)
    The Fair Trading Act 2010 (WA) is a Western Australian law which encourages fair trading practices and protects the rights of consumers. This law also makes it unlawful for an employer to mislead a potential employee when offering work, for … Continued
  • Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
    The Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is the main national law that deals with Australia’s workplace relations system. It sets out minimum conditions under the law, unfair dismissal and unlawful termination protections, general protections, rules governing the creation of awards … Continued
  • Fair Work Commission
    The Fair Work Commission is established by the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to operate as the national system’s workplace relations tribunal. Its functions include setting the national minimum wage and award rates, settling employment disputes through conciliation and hearings … Continued
  • Fair Work Infoline
    The Fair Work Infoline is a free information service provided by the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Fair Work Infoline can provide information about workplace rights and conditions of employment for national system employees. The number is 13 13 94 and … Continued
  • Fair Work Ombudsman
    The Fair Work Ombudsman is an independent statutory agency which administers the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Its functions include providing education on the law, investigating potential breaches of the law and even taking matters to court where a breach … Continued
  • Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth)
    The Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) set out how the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is applied or how certain words are defined. All national laws and regulations can be accessed from the Federal Register of Legislation’s website at www.legislation.gov.au … Continued
  • Family or household member
    The definition of a family or household member is a bit different in the state and national systems of employment law Generally, however, a person will be considered your family member if they are: • your spouse (husband or wife); … Continued
  • Fixed-term contract
    A fixed-term contract is a contract with a specified end date. If your contract says that either party can end the contract by giving notice, then it is unlikely to be a true fixed-term contract, even if it has a … Continued
  • Frivolous, vexatious or without reasonable prospect of success
    A claim may be considered frivolous, vexatious or without reasonable prospect of success if it has no merit (is very unlikely to succeed) or has been made even though it doesn’t satisfy certain eligibility criteria. If a court or commission … Continued
  • General protections
    General protections are rights and protections that national system employees have under the general protections part of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Under this part of the Act, employers are generally prevented from taking adverse action against an employee … Continued
  • Genuinely redundant/Genuine redundancy
    An employer can defend an unfair dismissal claim made by a national system employee under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) by arguing that the dismissal was a genuine redundancy. A dismissal will only be considered a genuine redundancy if: … Continued
  • Independent Contractors Hotline
    The Independent Contractors Hotline provides information about a range of independent contracting matters. For more information, call the Hotline on 1300 667 850 or see the website at www.innovation.gov.au/independentcontractors.
  • Industrial activity
    Industrial activity includes different types of participation in an industrial association including joining a union, refusing to join a union, encouraging or participating in lawful industrial action, acting as a union representative or seeking to be represented by a union. … Continued
  • Industrial association
    An industrial association is an employee representative body with the purpose of protecting and promoting the interests of its members in relation to their employment. A registered trade union is an example of an industrial association. Under the Fair Work … Continued
  • Industrial Magistrates Court (IMC)
    The Industrial Magistrates Court of Western Australia is a court that can hear claims about breaches of entitlements under industrial laws, awards and industrial agreements. The Industrial Magistrates Court cannot hear a claim based on a breach of contract unless … Continued
  • Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA)
    The Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) is the main law that deals with Western Australia’s industrial relations system. It sets up the Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission, allows employees to make unfair dismissal and denial of contractual benefits claims, and … Continued
  • Inherent requirements of the position
    Sometimes when an employee makes a claim for discrimination, the employer will argue that the employee was unable to fulfil the inherent requirements of the position. Something is an “inherent requirement of the position” if it’s an essential part of … Continued
  • Insolvency
    A business or other organisation becomes insolvent when it can’t pay its debts. The three most common corporate insolvency procedures are voluntary administration, liquidation and receivership. A sole trader is insolvent if he or she is subject to bankruptcy proceedings.
  • Labour hire agency
    A labour hire agency “hires” out employees to another business for a fee. The other business is sometimes called the “host business”. “Temping” agencies are an example of a labour hire agency. Generally, the labour hire agency is seen as … Continued
  • Limitation periods and out-of-time applications
    Most legal claims must be made within a certain amount of time. The time-frame for making a claim is sometimes called the “limitation period”. The exact amount of time you have to make a claim depends on what type of … Continued
  • Long service leave
    Long service leave is an entitlement to paid leave when you have worked for the same employer for a long period of time. Most employees in Western Australia are entitled to long service leave under the state Long Service Leave … Continued
  • Long Service Leave Act 1958 (WA)
    The Long Service Leave Act 1958 (WA) is a Western Australian law that provides a long service leave entitlement to most employees in Western Australia. All state laws can be accessed from the State Law Publisher’s website at www.slp.wa.gov.au or … Continued
  • Magistrates Court
    The Magistrates Court of Western Australia deals with a wide range of civil and criminal matters and is able to deal with civil claims up to $75,000. The Magistrates Court can hear claims based on breach of contract (including employment … Continued
  • Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 (WA)
    The Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 (WA) is a Western Australian law that sets out some minimum conditions under the law for state system employees. This law provides entitlements including annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, minimum wage, parental leave and … Continued
  • Minimum conditions under the law
    Minimum conditions under the law are rights and entitlements that employees generally have, no matter which industry or job they work in. Some minimum conditions under the law only apply to particular employees – for example, permanent employees. However, casual … Continued
  • Minimum wage
    The minimum wage is the minimum amount an employee can get paid. There is a different minimum wage for national system employees and state system employees. If an employee is entitled to a wage under an award, industrial agreement or … Continued
  • Modern award
    A modern award is a type of award under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Most national system employees are covered by a modern award. Modern awards cover entire industries or occupations.
  • National Employment Standards (NES)
    The National Employment Standards are 10 minimum conditions of employment set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) that apply to employees within the national system of employment law. The National Employment Standards deal with weekly hours of work, … Continued
  • National equal opportunity laws
    There are a number of national equal opportunity laws that deal with discrimination. These laws overlap to some extent with the state Equal Opportunity Act 1984 (WA), but there are some differences in coverage. The Australian Human Rights Commission is … Continued
  • National high income threshold
    The national high income threshold is $145,400 from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019. The amount is calculated in accordance with regulation 2.13 of the Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth). If you’re a national system employee and you earn … Continued
  • National system employee
    There are two jurisdictions or “systems” of employment law in Western Australia: the national system and the state system. National system employees are covered by the federal Fair Work Act, whereas state system employees are predominantly covered by state laws. … Continued
  • National system employee and national system employer
    There are two systems of employment law in Western Australia: the national system and the state system. Sometimes the different systems of employment law are called “jurisdictions”. National system employees are generally covered by the federal Fair Work Act 2009 … Continued
  • Notice of termination
    Generally, when terminating your employment, an employer will tell you a date in the future when you will stop work (i.e. they will give you “notice” that your employment will end). The period that you work in between your notice … Continued
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA)
    The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984 (WA) is a state law which regulates health and safety in the workplace in Western Australia. It also establishes the Commission for Occupational Safety and Health, and sets up a tribunal which determines … Continued
  • Ordinary hours of work
    Ordinary hours of work are the hours an employee usually works. Your ordinary hours can be important when calculating your entitlements. For example, if you take 2 weeks of annual leave, you will normally be paid for your ordinary hours … Continued
  • Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (Cth)
    The Paid Parental Leave Act 2010 (Cth) is a national law which provides for financial support to primary carers of newborn and newly adopted children. The entitlement to parental leave pay under this law should not be confused with the … Continued
  • Parental leave
    Parental leave is a minimum entitlement for all permanent employees in Western Australia who have worked for their employers for at least a year. Parental leave is the right to take time off work following the birth or adoption of … Continued
  • Permanent employee
    A permanent employee is an employee who works regular and systematic hours and has a reasonable expectation of ongoing employment. Permanent employees accrue annual leave and personal/carer’s leave. For more information, see our fact sheet Permanent or casual employee: which … Continued
  • Personal/carer’s leave
    Personal/carer’s leave is a minimum condition under the law for all permanent employees in Western Australia. Accrued personal/carer’s leave can be taken when an employee has a personal illness or injury which prevents him or her from attending work, or … Continued
  • Pro rata
    Many employment entitlements accrue on a pro rata basis. This means that the entitlement is proportionate to the employee’s hours of work. So for example, a full-time permanent employee who works 38 hours per week is entitled to 10 full … Continued
  • Protected characteristics
    An employer generally can’t discriminate against you because of certain personal characteristics, which are sometimes referred to as “protected characteristics”. Common characteristics protected by equal opportunity laws are: age, race, sex, family responsibility, family status, gender history, impairment, marital status, … Continued
  • Qualifying period
    Under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), a national system employee cannot make an unfair dismissal claim unless he or she has worked for the employer for a certain length of time. This is sometimes referred to as having met … Continued
  • Redundancy
    An employee’s position is made redundant when an employer no longer requires that position to be performed by that employee, or by anyone else, because of operational changes or insolvency. Some employees are entitled to redundancy pay where they have … Continued
  • Restraint of trade
    Usually a restraint of trade is a promise that an employer gets from an employee which restricts the work the employee can perform after finishing work for the employer. Most commonly, a restraint of trade states that an employee will … Continued
  • Seek legal advice
    If you need legal advice, you can call the Law Society of Western Australia for details of appropriate solicitors in your area. You can call the Law Society on 9324 8600 or visit their website at www.lawsocietywa.asn.au for more information. … Continued
  • Serious misconduct
    Serious misconduct occurs when an employee behaves in a way that is inappropriate or dangerous, which suggests that the employee no longer intends to be bound by the employment contract. Because of this, the employer is justified in summarily (immediately) … Continued
  • Shift workers
    A shift worker is an employee who works fixed hours of work (shifts or rosters) that are outside or partly outside of normal working hours (e.g. 9am – 5pm Monday to Friday). To work out if you are a “shift … Continued
  • Small business
    A small business under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) is an employer that employs fewer than 15 employees, including permanent employees and casual employees who work regular and systematic hours and have a reasonable expectation of ongoing employment. When … Continued
  • Spent conviction
    A spent conviction is an old conviction that you have applied to have removed from your criminal record. Generally, a spent conviction does not need to be disclosed when you apply for a job. However, spent convictions must still be … Continued
  • State high income threshold
    The state high income threshold is $162,990 from 1 July 2018 to 30 June 2019. The amount is calculated in accordance with regulations 5 and 6 of the Industrial Relations (General) Regulations 1997 (WA). If you’re a state system employee, … Continued
  • State system employee and state system employer
    A state system employee is an employee who is not employed by a constitutional corporation and is generally covered by state employment laws. State system employees are employed by: • sole traders; • partnerships where the partners are individuals rather … Continued
  • Statutory declaration
    A statutory declaration is a written statement by a person who declares something to be true and which complies with certain legal requirements. It is a criminal offence to make a statement which you know to be false in a … Continued
  • Training contract
    In Western Australia, a training contract is an agreement between an employer and an apprentice or trainee which is registered with ApprentiCentre. A training contract outlines the responsibilities of both the employer and the apprentice or trainee in relation to … Continued
  • Transfer of business
    A transfer of business generally occurs when one employer sells its business to another employer. However, there may be other ways in which a transfer of business occurs. For example, under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), a transfer of … Continued
  • Undue influence
    Undue influence is where one person uses their position of special influence to pressure another person into agreeing to something. A position of influence can include an employer-employee relationship.
  • Unfair dismissal
    A dismissal may be unfair if you were not given a valid reason for dismissal. A dismissal can also be unfair if the employer doesn’t follow a fair process – for example, if you were not given a valid warning … Continued
  • Unlawful termination
    If a state system employee is dismissed for certain prohibited reasons, this may be an unlawful termination. Here are some examples of prohibited reasons: • being temporarily absent due to illness or injury; • making a complaint against an employer … Continued
  • Valid reason for dismissal
    A valid reason for dismissal must be about an employee’s conduct or performance and be reasonable in the circumstances. Note that a dismissal can be unfair even if your employer gave you a valid reason for dismissal.
  • Wageline
    Wageline is a free and confidential service providing information on state workplace laws. Wageline gives information about rates of pay, minimum conditions of employment and state awards and industrial agreements. You can call Wageline on 1300 655 266 or find … Continued
  • Warning and valid warning
    A warning is a verbal or written communication from an employer which confirms or addresses a performance or conduct issue in relation to an employee. In considering if a dismissal was unfair or not, an industrial relations commission will usually … Continued
  • Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission (WAIRC)
    The Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission deals with industrial matters under the state Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA). It approves state awards and industrial agreements, sets the state minimum wage and receives state unfair dismissal claims and claims for denied … Continued
  • WorkCover
    WorkCover is a state government body that administers the Workers’ Compensation and Injury Management Act 1981 (WA). WorkCover provides information on workers’ compensation, grants remedies through workers’ compensation and injury management. For more information, you can call WorkCover on 1300 … Continued
  • Workplace right
    A workplace right is generally a right or a benefit that you have under a workplace law, such as the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), or an award or industrial agreement. For example, a permanent employee has a workplace right … Continued
  • WorkSafe
    WorkSafe is a state government organisation which operates as a division of the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety. WorkSafe is responsible for administering the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1988 (WA) to protect and promote health and safety … Continued

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More Resources

You may wish to use our InfoGuide if you do not know what employment law issue applies to you. Our InfoGuide will ask you questions about your employment to work out which of our fact sheets, information kits and other resources is best for you. You should use the InfoGuide if you have not called our Advice Line yet.

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You may find these fact sheets helpful if you already know what your employment law issue is and you would like some general information. Our fact sheets are designed to help you with common employment law claims, issues you may experience in the workplace and entitlements you may be able to receive. You should use the fact sheets if you have already called our Advice Line or used our InfoGuide.

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The information videos explain the services offered by ELC, summarise workplace rights in Western Australia and let you know what your legal options might be if you have problems with your job.

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