Negotiating pay


Money's funny. Everybody wants to be sure they're getting paid what they're worth, but most people are really reluctant to actually sit down and talk about what they're getting paid. Here are some things to think about when it comes to negotiating your salary and pay rates.

When to ask about pay

It can feel awkward to raise the subject of pay when applying for a job or asking for a raise. And you should never make pay the first thing you discuss in a job interview. But if your potential new employer hasn't told you how much you're getting paid by the time they offer you the job, make sure you discuss your pay with them (and make sure you're happy with the offer) before accepting the job.

When should the rate of pay go up?

Pay rates can go up:

  • When you get a promotion
  • When a junior employee turns a year older or becomes an adult (this means 18-21 years, depending on the award, agreement or industry sector)
  • When you shift from one year of your apprenticeship to the next
  • On the anniversary of your employment (12 months) when you are under a federal award or agreement
  • When a pay rise is awarded by Fair Work Australia
  • When an employment agreement says you should get one

Some jobs in professional or semi-professional areas (especially when people are being paid more than the set minimum) have salary or performance reviews. A performance review is when pay rises are awarded for good performance and increased productivity. These types of rises are often a percentage of the employee's annual wage. They can happen every year or on some other regular time frame.

Not getting a pay rise that you are entitled to means that you have been underpaid. If this is the case, contact your union or use the Fair Work Ombudsman (new window) for assistance.

Asking for a pay rise

If you think that you deserve a pay rise, you have the right to ask for one. Before asking your employer, prepare your case. Put together some proof to back up your claim. Examples of things that you can use to make your case include:

  • Working lots of overtime
  • Doing work that's outside your job description
  • Successful management of an important project

When negotiating a pay rise be honest, candid and professional. Don't threaten or beg.


Jobwatch Victoria
Statewide community legal centre specialising in issues for workers in Victoria, and offering free and confidential advice 

Fair Work Ombudsman
Gives advice and helps people understand their workplace rights and responsibilities

Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU)
A national organisation representing the Australian workforce