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Membership FAQs

We have curated a collection of common questions and answers to help you with your queries. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, feel free to contact us anytime
  • How can ​​you find out what you​​ are entitled to?
    Your right to wages and other entitlements can be found in: The National Employment Standards (NES) - which outlines 11 minimum employment entitlements that have to be provided to all employees. An Award - which is a legal document that outlines the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment. An Enterprise Agreement – which is an agreement made at the enterprise level that contains terms and conditions of employment, including wages, for a period of up to 4 years from the date of approval. Your Employment Contract – this is usually supplied and signed by the employee and employer at the time of initial employment. Workplace Legislation - such as the Fair Work Act and the Long Service Leave Act. NB: Any award, enterprise agreement or contract of employment cannot provide an entitlement that is less than the minimum entitlements in the NES.
  • What are the 11 minimum NES entitlements?
    The 11 minimum entitlements of the NES are: Maximum weekly hours Requests for flexible working arrangements Offers and requests to convert from casual to permanent employment 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 and Casual Employment Information Statement
  • How do you know if you are being underpaid?
    The amount you should be paid will depend on: The minimum wage Your age and the position you are in Any Award or Enterprise Agreement you are covered by Your contract of employment If you are covered by an Award or an Enterprise Agreement, it should include your pay rate. If you are not covered by an Award or an Enterprise Agreement and your contract of employment doesn't specify how much you should be paid, then you should be paid at least the national minimum wage for all the hours that you work. As at 1 July 2021, the national minimum wage is $20.33 per hour. To check the current full-time minimum wage, go to the Fair Work Commission​ website. If you think you are being underpaid, you should try talking to your employer about the issue first. Your employer might have made a mistake and is unaware that they are underpaying you. If talking or writing to your employer hasn't worked, you can make a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). The FWO can help resolve the issue between you and your employer.
  • Which Award do optical support staff fall under? (i.e. Optical Dispensers, Optical Assistants and Sales Employees etc)"
    It is recommended to follow the advice set by Optometry Australia in relation to award coverage for support staff employed within optometry practices both in a retail and practice setting. During a meeting between Optometry Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman in 2019, they were quite firm in their position that optometry practice support staff should be provided coverage under the Health Professionals and Support Services Award (HP&SS). Given that there is currently no definitive ruling to the contrary, it is Optometry Australia’s position that the most risk adverse approach would be to adopt the Fair Work Ombudsman’s position on coverage. After undertaking a benchmarking exercise across a number of indicative support staff rosters for optometry practices operating across a seven-day roster, it was found that while there are differences between the penalty, loading and overtime rates, the main pay rates are slightly higher under the HP&SS Award rather than the Retail Award. The calculations demonstrate that when taking into consideration penalty, loading and overtime rates paid to both casual and permanent employees (including on weekends and public holidays), overall the costs to business were comparable albeit slightly higher under the HP&SS Award. Following this logic, employers who pay staff under the higher HP&SS Award rates would be at less risk of an underpayment claim.
  • What if an employer doesn’t pay support staff under the HP&SS Award?
    Paying under the HP&SS Award is advisable but not compulsory. At the time of writing, the Fair Work Commission had not made a clear determination in relation to award coverage for the optometry sector. In all likelihood the status quo may well be maintained and there will be no clear determination in relation to the optometry industry (i.e. optometry practices will not be specifically included under the definition of health professionals under the HP&SS Award).
  • What if an employer continues to pay support staff under the Retail Award?
    Should an employer continue to pay support staff under the Retail Award, there is a chance that at some future point the Fair Work Ombudsman or the Fair Work Commission may deem the employer to be paying under the incorrect Award. Should that happen the Fair Work Ombudsman have advised that they will undertake a ‘no harm’ test, in that they will simply ensure that the employee has not been disadvantaged in any way by virtue of their coverage under the Retail Award versus the HP&SS Award. To ensure that support staff are correctly classified and would pass a ‘no harm’ test, we recommend contracts of employment that include a ‘Set Off’ clause that will ensure that any and all entitlements paid to employees are set off against any award entitlements that are payable under the HP&SS Award.
  • How much notice does an employee have to provide if they resign from their position?
    An employee's Award, Enterprise Agreement, or Employment Contract should set out how much notice the employee needs to give when they resign. Employees should check the terms of those documents for information first. The notice period: starts the day after the employee gives notice that they want to end the employment. ends on the last day of employment. Under the Fair Work Act, an Award and Agreement ‘Free’ employee doesn't need to give notice to their employer before resigning. However, they may need to give their employer notice under their employment contract. If an employee's contract is silent about notice, or the employee doesn't have a written contract, the employee should give their employer reasonable notice.
  • How much annual leave is an employee entitled to each year?
    All employees, except casuals, are entitled to paid time off for holidays. When taking time off, employees have to be paid their minimum pay rate, not including overtime, penalties, allowances or bonuses. Full-time and part-time employees get 4 weeks of annual leave every year. Some employees will get extra pay called annual leave loading (annual leave loading). Casual employees don’t get paid time off, but can ask their employer about taking unpaid leave for holidays. An employer and employee have to agree on when leave will be taken. An employer can only refuse an employee’s request for annual leave if the refusal is reasonable. Sometimes employers can direct their employees to take annual leave.
  • When is an employee entitled to overtime pay?
    Overtime is when an employee works extra time. It can include work done: beyond their ordinary hours of work outside the agreed number of hours outside the spread of ordinary hours The spread of hours is the times of the day ordinary hours can be worked (for example, between 7.30am - 9pm). The details about when overtime applies are different under each award and registered agreement. Under the HP&SS Award, the following applies - Full-time employees get overtime rates if they work: more than the maximum number of ordinary hours of work (10 hours per day or 38 hours per week) outside the spread of ordinary hours Part-time employees get overtime rates if they work: more than the maximum number of ordinary hours of work (10 hours per day or 38 hours per week) outside the spread of ordinary hours more than their agreed hours Casual employees get overtime rates if they work: more than the maximum number of ordinary hours of work (10 hours per day or 38 hours per week) NB: Hours can be averaged over a 2 or 4 week period. This means the employee may work more than 38 hours one week, but less in another. Some awards and registered agreements allow an employee to take paid time off instead of being paid overtime pay. This is also known as 'time in lieu', 'time off in lieu' or 'TOIL'.
  • How many breaks is an employee entitled to in a shift?
    Awards, Enterprise Agreements and other registered agreements provide for paid and unpaid rest breaks and meal breaks, including: the length of the breaks when they need to be taken the rules about payment. Under the HP&SS Award the following applies - A rest break is a 10 minute paid break that counts as time worked. A meal break is a 30 - 60 minute unpaid break that doesn't count as time worked. An employee gets the following number of breaks, depending on the ordinary hours they actually work (not their rostered hours).
  • Can training costs be recovered from an employee who has resigned?
    An employee is only liable to repay training costs if a prior agreement is in place. For example: a clause in the employment contract that clearly outlines the requirements of a training agreement for any paid training courses attended during employment. The training agreement should state that if an employee resigns within a certain timeframe of completing a paid training course, they will be required to repay a certain amount of money to the Company. If the employment contract does not include a training agreement or the modern award or enterprise agreement is silent on the matter, the employee has no legal obligation to reimburse the employer for the training. NB: Where the employer has received or benefited from government subsidies to pay for the training or the employee’s wages, the original terms of the agreement are unlikely to apply and legal advice should be sought.

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