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Workplace terms and conditions for employees

As an employee, you have the right to workplace terms and conditions that are fair and non-discriminatory. You should have equal opportunity to apply for available jobs, higher duties, job rotation schemes and flexible working arrangements.

Your background or personal characteristics should generally not influence an employer’s decision about your:

  • employment as a permanent, casual, full-time or part-time worker
  • hours of work
  • wages, salary levels or remuneration packages
  • any other terms and conditions offered to you at the start of employment.

Setting awards and agreements

Your employment benefits and conditions may be set down in an award, enterprise agreement or individual employment contract. Your employer should consult widely across your workplace during any negotiations about award conditions or enterprise agreements to make sure that there is no unfair disadvantage or indirect discrimination.

Access to training 

Professional development is an important part of any workplace. It helps you to be productive and to develop your chosen career path.

Your background or personal characteristics should not have any impact on your opportunities to participate in workplace activities such as:

  • training
  • promotion 
  • mentoring
  • skills rotation
  • transfers.

Discrimination through stereotypes

Sometimes you may find yourself subject to negative stereotypes that can lead to discrimination through workplace terms and conditions. For example, assumptions that:

  • older workers are less able to learn new skills
  • people with disability create more difficulties or costs for the organisation
  • women will leave the workforce to raise children 
  • newly-arrived refugees won’t be able to develop the necessary English-language skills.

Imposing dress standards 

If your employer sets a dress code, it should be:

  • a reasonable requirement and directly relevant the job 
  • equally applicable to men and women
  • compatible with cultural or religious beliefs
  • fair to people with disabilities.

Your employer has also a responsibility to maintain a safe workplace under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. This means that employers can sometimes impose standards of dress that may discriminate, where it is reasonable and necessary to maintain workplace safety.    

Employer responsibilities

Employers can be held legally responsible for acts of discrimination by their employees. This is known as vicarious liability and employers should take reasonable precautions to reduce this risk.

Read more about the responsibilities of employers when developing and managing workplace terms and conditions that are non-discriminatory.

Complaints to the Commission

An employee can lodge a complaint of discrimination with the Commission if they believe their workplace terms and conditions discriminate against them because of a personal characteristic that is protected under the Equal Opportunity Act 2010.

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