Am I entitled to a bonus and, if so, is it entirely discretionary?

Whether you are entitled to bonus payments depends on whether there is an agreement between you and your employer.

If there is an express term in your contract saying you will be paid a bonus, or an implied term by virtue of custom and practice, then you have a contractual right to a bonus, meaning that if your employer failed to pay your bonus when due, this would be a breach of contract.

If your contract makes it clear that the bonus is paid at the employer’s discretion, then you may not be contractually entitled to the payment. But, even if your bonus is discretionary, your employer must not:

  • act irrationally or arbitrarily;
  • breach the contractual duty of trust, confidence and good faith; or
  • victimise or discriminate – for example, by withholding a bonus because an employee has asked to return to work part-time after maternity leave.
Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

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