Expectations in the workplace

What can I expect in an Australian workplace?

Australian workplaces are diverse with a tolerant attitude toward cultural differences. They vary widely in organisational culture, communication and behaviour expectations. Compared to some countries, workplaces are not overly formal, communication is  relaxed, but there are clear lines of authority.

Communicating at work

Communicating with colleagues can be challenging if English is not your first language. Here are some points to consider:

  • Communication can be informal, however this depends on the job and environment
  • Straight forward and direct communication is preferred, usually colleagues will be on a first name basis
  • Managers often use a collaborative communication style rather than authoritarian
  • It is important to always be professional and polite to internal and external customers
  • Humour between colleagues is usually meant to be friendly not disrespectful – but bullying should not be tolerated
  • Slang or colloquial language is sometimes used and is meant to be cheeky rather than offensive
  • Some people have a tendency to shorten, substitute and combine words eg. "Doya wanna" for "Do you want to"

Laws protecting you at work in Australia

It is against the law to discriminate against people in the workplace based on their ethnicity, sex, age, family status, marital status, religion, disability, family responsibility, and sexual orientation. You can look up your rights on the Australian Human Rights Commission website.

There are laws governing your employment in the workplace.  The Fair Work Commission is the national workplace relations tribunal. It is an independent body with power to carry out a range of functions relating to minimum wages and conditions, dispute resolution, termination of employment and other workplace matters. 

Occupational Health and Safety laws are there to protect your health, safety and welfare in the workplace.  All organisations have a duty of care to ensure that employees remain safe at work at all times. You can check out these laws on the Worksafe Victoria website.

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