Advocating for Defence families

Know your worth as an employee – Part 1

Job hunting every couple of years because your ADF partner has been posted to a new location is hard enough, without discovering after you have been offered a new job that it’s going to cost you money to take it after you add up all of the childcare fees, transport costs and dry cleaning for the new uniform that you’ve had to pay for.

So how do you avoid getting yourself into this situation?

Do some research before you start your job hunt.

What can you expect to be paid for the type of jobs you’re looking for?

Compare this with your expenses. Can you afford to take this job?

This way you can possibly structure your job hunt and identify opportunities that may make balancing the budget a little easier.

Tip: Use the filters in the search function when you are looking at job boards to automatically cut out jobs that won’t pay enough.

So what type of pay arrangements are there?

Pay structures normally fall into one or two categories, hourly rate or salary.

You will receive an hourly rate when you are paid under an Award or agreement, these are rates outlined in Industry or Employer Awards or Agreements which can be found using the award finder on .

The other time you will be paid an hourly rate is when you are employed by a recruitment agent who places you with one of their clients. This can be short term one or two days, or longer term – two to three months. These type of arrangement tends to be shorter term as the client pays a higher rate to the recruitment agent than you receive from them, so for longer term contracts they would normally prefer to pay the full fee to the recruitment agent and employ you directly themselves.  

One thing to remember when you are employed under an award or agreement is that the employer will pay you at the rate that the position is set at, even if you have skills and experience that mean you are capable of working in a position at a higher grade.  If they don’t require you to use those skills you won’t be paid for them, with some industry specific caveats.

When you are paid a salary it is an agreed annual amount, generally paid fortnightly in equal installments. It is generally accepted that you are not paid any extra for any reasonable overtime as the rate you are being paid is much higher than most awards or agreements.

These may be called Award Free, Above Award or Common Law contracts. 

APS or Australian Public Service roles fall somewhere in between you will be paid an annual salary, but it will fall into a predefined salary band and there are clearer definitions of when you can expect to be paid for any overtime or any other allowances. Details about which salary band the position falls into are generally included in the job advertisement.

For APS and Award/ Agreement positions it’s generally much easier to find out before you even apply or express interest in a position what you will potentially be paid, however for salary positions its generally a little harder to get a clear picture of what you will be paid or what to ask for if you are asked for your salary expectation.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post next Monday.

More on Partner Employment

Nejula Blake
DFA Project Officer – Employment

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice.

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