How to read your payslip

Are you being paid for the hours you have worked? Are you receiving all your entitlements? The Lamp provides a practical guide on reading your payslip.

When you receive your payslip, do you examine it and check that you’ve been paid correctly including overtime, shift penalties and other entitlements? If so, well done. If not, you could be missing out on what you are owed.

‘It’s extremely important to check your pay slip to make sure you are being paid for what you have actually worked,’ says NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda. ‘Rosters change, so you have to ensure that what you are being paid is what you have worked, to make sure your hourly rate is correct for your classification, to ensure your shift penalties are correct, and that your deductions come out correctly.’

Some of the most common complaints the Association receives from members are:

  • I didn’t get paid.
  • I got the wrong shift penalty – for example, my manager has put in the wrong code so instead of getting paid for Saturday I got paid for Sunday.
  • I didn’t get paid an on-call allowance.
  • My overtime was incorrectly calculated.
  • I didn’t get my higher-grade duties.

Occasionally, someone may be overpaid. ‘If you can avoid an overpayment you won’t have the anguish later when you are told you’ve been overpaid by a few thousand dollars. And if you have been underpaid, you can get it fixed quickly. But you don’t know unless you check your payslip,’ said Judith.


When the new public sector payroll system is rolled out in the next few weeks, members will have the option of receiving an electronic, rather than printed, payslip.

The new system uses one program and is award-based, meaning that the person entering data cannot put something into a pay if it’s not under that employee’s award. For example, they cannot put a tool allowance for a tradesperson into a nurse’s pay.

Public-sector nurses will also now receive one payroll number and one payslip even if they are working for different Local Health Networks.


The Australian Fair Work Act 2009 requires that the following must be included in all employees’ payslips:

  • the employer’s name
  • the employee’s name
  • the period to which the pay slip relates
  • the date on which the payment to which
  • the pay slip relates was made
  • the gross amount of the payment
  • the net amount of the payment
  • any amount paid to the employee that is a bonus, loading, allowance, penalty rate, incentive-based payment or other separately identifiable entitlement on and after 1 January 2010 – the Australian Business Number (if any) of the employer if an amount is deducted from the gross amount of the payment, the payslip must also include the name, or the name and number, of the fund or account into which the deduction was paid.

If the employee is paid at an hourly rate of pay, the pay slip must also include:

  • the rate of pay for the employee’s ordinary hours (however described)
  • the number of hours in that period for which the employee was employed at that rate
  • the amount of the payment made at that rate

If the employee is paid at an annual rate of pay, the payslip must also include the rate as at the latest date to which the payment relates.

If the employer is required to make superannuation contributions for the benefit of the employee, the payslip must also include:

  • the amount of each contribution that the employer made during the period to which the pay slip relates, and the name, or the name and number, of any fund to which the contribution was made
  • the amounts of contributions that the employer is liable to make in relation to the period to which the pay slip relates, and the name, or the name and number, of any fund to which the contributions will be made.


If you have a problem with your payslip, the first thing to do is ensure you have your payslip in front of you. Secondly, if you see a problem, go back to your manager or person who has entered the details into the computer to make sure there actually is a problem.

Ask your manager to fix the problem. If your manager does not correct the problem – which should be done by the next pay – contact the Association, which will determine what pressure it can put on your employer to fix the issue as soon as possible.

Members’ and employers’ obligations in regards to payslips


‘Pick up your payslip and look at it,’ says NSWNA Assistant General Secretary Judith Kiejda. ‘Don’t just say, “Oh there’s this amount of money in my bank account so I must have been paid this week or fortnight.” It doesn’t work like that – if $2,000 has gone into your account, it could be made up of any amount – it could be totally wrong, half a pay or someone else’s pay! Have a look at your payslip and make sure you’ve been paid what you’ve worked.’

When starting a new job, members must advise their managers to commence deductions. For any deduction to come out of your pay you have to get a written authority.

So if a member doesn’t do this, it may delay or affect their pay. Keep your own records of the hours you work. Make a note of them in your diary or keep a copy of the roster and then make sure this information is reflected on your payslip.


‘Employers must ensure they provide a payslip, that all information required by The Fair Work Act (see box on left) is included,’ says Judith Kiejda. ‘They must ensure that payment hits the employees’ bank accounts on the designated pay day, and fix up any errors within the next pay.

‘When you have new people starting there may be a delay in paperwork – for example, the Nursing Unit Manager can’t put the payroll details in because HR hasn’t done their side of things, so someone might have gone six weeks without pay, which is totally unreasonable,’ says Judith.