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Know Your Rights

WaR champions equality, diversity and inclusivity across all sectors of the wine industry. We are not an industry watchdog and cannot offer; legal advice, representation, counselling or therapy. However, we can direct you to people and organisations who are qualified and capable of supporting you in a variety of ways. 


Sectors of the wine industry, hospitality included, have historically put up structural and cultural barriers in order to maintain an imbalance of power. Knowing your rights, and what avenues of redress are available to you is key to addressing that imbalance. 


Below is a list of resources and support services that are available to you, should you need any help.

Help Lines & Support Services

Life Line

13 11 14

Anyone across Australia experiencing a personal crisis or thinking about suicide can call 13 11 14, or text 0477 13 11 14 at night (6pm-midnight AEDT). Someone will help put you in contact with a crisis service in your state or territory. Alternatively you can access their website.  


Beyond Blue

1300 22 4636

Information and support to help everyone in Australia achieve their best possible mental health, whatever their age and wherever they live. More information can also be found on their website



(The National Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Counselling Service)

1800 737 732


This is a 24-hour national sexual assault, family and domestic violence counselling line for any Australian who has experienced, or is at risk of, family and domestic violence and/or sexual assault.

 Individuals can also access local support services and search the internet using Daisy, a free app developed by 1800RESPECT that protects user privacy. You can also access their website for more information.

Financial Counselling Australia

1800 007 007

Access free resources and advice from a private financial counsellor. Call 1800 007 007 to speak to someone in your state or click link for more information. 

Women's Shelters:


Women and Girls Emergency Centre

Women’s Community Shelters

Lou’s Place

For emergency services - phone 000 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.

Modern Awards Lists

Modern awards, as set out by the Fair Work Act 2009, provide the minimum conditions, entitlements and terms for employees performing work in a given industry or occupation covered by the relevant modern award, in addition to the National Employment Standards (NES).


Modern awards may apply to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system. However, not all employees are ‘award covered’. For example, some individuals may be covered by a registered or enterprise agreement or they may not work in an industry or occupation covered by the modern award system. This is why it is important to find and review the employment obligations in your relevant award.


Modern awards provide entitlements such as:

  • Pay

  • Hours of work

  • Rosters

  • Breaks

  • Allowances

  • Penalty rates

  • Overtime


To find your award follow this link to the Fair Work Ombudsman:

Common awards that apply to the hospitality sector


Restaurant Award

Hospitality General Award

Rights, Freedoms & Protections

One of the first steps in addressing the structural inequalities in place across the industry is being aware of your rights and protections in the workplace. 


Your rights are protected by federal anti-discrimination legislation, in addition to the Fair Work system, and also by work health and safety (WHS) laws.


The 2020 Respect@Work Report found that workplace sexual harassment in Australia is both prevalent and pervasive, with two in five women having experienced harassment in the past five years. Specific cultural/systemic drivers associated with the alcohol and hospitality industries include:

  • A lack of understanding and education surrounding what constitutes harassment and discrimination in the workplace

  • Lack of leadership that prioritises a safe workplace culture and environment 


Risk factors within the industry include:

  • Use & consumption of alcohol in a professional context

  • Young workers (under 30)

  • Migrant workers 

  • People in precarious or insecure working arrangements 

Overview of Legal Frameworks Supporting Safe Working Environments

Federal Anti-Discrimination Laws 

Positive Duty

Fair Work System

Work Health and Safety Laws


Federal Anti-Discrimination laws set out a range of legal obligations and protections that contribute to safe and respectful workplaces. The below anti-discrimination laws make sexual harassment in the workplace unlawful and prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of a range of protected attributes. Discrimination in employment can include single incidents of bullying on the basis of a protected attribute.


  • Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth): makes sexual harassment, sex-based harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace unlawful

  • Age Discrimination Act 2004 (Cth):  makes discrimination on the grounds of age unlawful in relation to work 

  • Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (Cth): makes discrimination against an employee on the ground of a disability unlawful

  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth): makes racial discrimination against an employee unlawful

  • Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth): under this Act, the AHRC can investigate and resolve complaints of unlawful discrimination and harrassment in the workplace.

The positive duty is a legal obligation introduced into the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) in December 2022. It applies to ‘persons conducting a business or undertaking’ and ‘employers’ (as defined in the Sex Discrimination Act).

The positive duty requires employers to take ‘reasonable and proportionate
measures’ to eliminate the following behaviour as far as possible:
• discrimination on the ground of sex in a work context
• sexual harassment in connection with work
• sex-based harassment in connection with work
• conduct creating a workplace environment that is hostile on the ground of sex
• related acts of victimisation.

ALL organisations and businesses in Australia must satisfy and comply with the positive duty, regardless of their size or resources, This includes sole traders and the self-employed, as well as small, medium and large businesses, and government.

The positive duty captures behaviour engaged in by:
• employers or people running an organisation or business
• employees, workers and agents
• third parties (in some cases) such as customers, clients, patients, students, members of the public and others towards employees and workers in connection with their work. Sexual harassment and other unlawful behaviours can occur in a wide range of contexts that are not necessarily limited to the workplace, or the working hours, of the people involved.

Unlawful behaviours captured by the positive duty may occur:
• in the workplace during work hours or after hours
• during a lunch break
• when working remotely (from home or offsite)
• at staff drinks or staff functions (at work or somewhere else)
• between colleagues outside the workplace and outside work hours
• during work-related travel.

Anyone can experience unlawful behaviours, in any workplace, across all industries. Some workers, however, are more likely to be targets for certain types of unlawful behaviour than others. For example, people who are most at risk of workplace sexual harassment include women, people who identify as LGBTIQ+, young people, people with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and culturally and racially marginalised people. Workers who are on temporary work visas or employed under casual or insecure arrangements are especially

You can learn more about how to comply with the Positive Duty here:
Guidelines for Complying with the Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)
Steps to meet the Positive Duty
What is the Positive Duty?
The Guiding Principles: Person-centred and Trauma-informed Approaches to Safe and Respectful Workplaces
Effective Education and Training
Causes and Risk Factors of Sex Discrimination, Sexual Harassment and Other Unlawful Behaviours
Information Guide on the Positive Duty under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth)

The Fair Work System, which includes The Fair Work Act and Fair Work Regulations 2009 (Cth) is the national system governing the relationship between employers and employees. The system provides employees with key avenues through which they are able to:


  • Seek orders from the Fair Work Commission to prevent and workplace harassment or bullying

  • Challenge the termination of their employment


Unlike discrimination claims under anti-discrimination legislation, if an employee alleges that they have been subjected to unlawful harassment, bullying or discrimination, the court will presume that this is the case unless the employer can prove otherwise. 



Australian work health and safety (WHS) legislation is based on model laws that have been adopted by the Commonwealth and most State and Territory governments. The principle purpose of these laws is to protect workers from harm to their health, safety and welfare, through the minimisation and elimination of risks associated with their work. ‘Health’ in a WHS context includes both physical and psychological health. 


The laws aim to eradicate behaviour that may constitute bullying, harassment or sexual assault. Employers and workers must comply with a range of legal obligations set out by anti-discrimination, employment, fair work and WHS laws to minimise and manage risk arising from such behaviour. The vast majority of working arrangements and relationships are covered under these laws, regardless of how informal they may be. Further, there are criminal penalties that apply in instances of non-compliance with employers’ primary duties under WHS laws.


A union’s primary function is to represent the interests of the employee, whereas, the Fair Work Ombudsman is an independent government agency. The Fair Work Ombudsman can act as a centralised point of contact, providing valuable information regarding the national workplace relations system and can investigate workplace complaints and enforce labour laws. However, as a union member, your interests will always be protected, should you need assistance.


Some of the services a union provides:

  • Provide a support person to be present in meetings around possible redundancy

  • Provide you with a lawyer in the event that you go to the tribunal 

  • Provide advice over the phone about the particulars of your situation

  • Provide advice as to whether or not a law has been broken


Strong union membership has traditionally been lacking in the hospitality sector. This fact, combined with a hugely casualised workforce, has left the industry particularly open to exploitation.

Wondering what your union might be? Australian Unions usually offer a month free and you can find your union on their site


Below are a list of a few unions relevant to the wine industry:– Hospitality – Hospitality, Farm and Winery Workers– Retail - Retail & Warehouse Workers– Journalism Journalism

Useful Links

Depending on your workplace concern or issue, you may also want to reach out to: 

The Fair Work Ombudsman 

Australian Human Rights Commission

Women’s Legal Service Australia


The contents below do not constitute legal advice, are not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and should not be relied upon as such.


Q. How do I know if I’m being paid the right amount?


A. Consult the relevant award to find your classification level and pay grade. If you’re on a salary, record your hours worked per week, and calculate your average hourly pay rate. You can also use the Pay and Conditions Tool on the The Fair Work Ombudsman website to help you work out your minimum pay rate.


Q. What should I do if I think I’m being underpaid?

A. If you are a union member, contact your union. 


The Fair Work Ombudsman advises that you keep a record of hours as well as copies of your contract and information regarding your relevant award and pay grade at hand to present to your employer. This will allow you to discuss what your correct pay rate is, how much you might be owed and to clear up any misunderstandings about classifications and calculating pay rates.


The Fair Work Ombudsman outlines the exact steps to take here, including how to prepare for the meeting and how best to approach your employer.


The Fair Work Ombudsman strongly advises making notes and sending a follow up email to your employer that includes a summary of the discussion and agreement. In the event that you cannot come to an agreement, it may be helpful to have a written record of the conversation. 


Q. I haven’t been able to resolve things with my employer - what do I do next?


A: If you are a union member, contact your union for advice and support. Otherwise see the following advice from the Fairwork Ombudsman: 

Q. My visa depends on my employer - are there protections in place?

A. The Fair Work Ombudsman has an arrangement with the Department of Home Affairs called the Assurance Protocol. The protocol supports visa holders when they reach out for help with a workplace problem. Visa holders can ask for help from the Fair Work Ombudsman without fear of visa cancellation, even if there has been a breach of their employment related visa conditions. 

You can find further information relating to visa holders and migrants here: 

Q. I feel unsafe at work. Where do I go for help?


A. Under Australian work health and safety (WHS) legislation your employer is legally obliged to protect workers from harm to their health, safety and welfare, through the minimisation and elimination of risks associated with their work. You can read the relevant information about employment conditions here:


Q. I am being bullied/harassed at work. What can I do about it?


A. Everyone has the right to a harassment-free workplace. It’s important that you understand the legal definition of what constitutes bullying and harassment. The Fair Work Ombudsman outlines the definitions here:


The Fair Work Ombudsman advises having a private discussion with a supervisor or manager at your workplace. They also suggest keeping a record of the meeting and the steps taken to address the problem. 


If the bullying and harassment continues at your workplace you can take further action by:



You may also need help to deal with stress from bullying and harassment. Your workplace may have an employee assistance program that provides access to talk to somebody confidentially about how you’re feeling, otherwise talk to your doctor about a mental health care treatment plan or contact Life Line or Beyond Blue

Q. I have been assaulted at work. What should I do? 

A. Contact the police or emergency services immediately- call 000

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