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Your rights as an international student employee in Australia

Your rights as an international student employee

If you’re studying full time at university, you might be thinking about getting a job to support your income. Everyone that works in Australia is covered by a basic set of rights and protections, and as an international student you are no different.

These sets of rules refer to the minimum amount of money you are legally entitled to be paid, as well as the conditions you can expect to work under. Visa conditions allow international students to work a maximum of 20 hours a week during the term time.

If you’re thinking of getting a job while you study, here’s what you can expect.

Planning on getting a student job as an international student?

Know your rights before you get started

All jobs in Australia are governed by a set of conditions known as the National Employment Standards. Not all of these rules apply to casual work, but there are some protections in place that are applicable to all employees, including:

The minimum wage

  • The minimum wage is something that is reviewed every year and is dependent on the job that you do. As a student on an international visa, you are entitled to a minimum wage of $18.23/hour. Sometimes you may even get paid more than this, but it is against the law to pay you any less. Find out the minimum wage for your role with this pay calculator.
  • You shouldn’t have to complete any unpaid work other than what is necessary to show you what to do. Any work you complete outside of your agreement should be paid as per your contract.
  • Any meetings and training outside of your role should be paid for accordingly.
  • Be wary of any salary offered as ‘cash in hand’. This is usually a way of an employer trying to avoid tax and is illegal. Taking cash in hand payments would also invalidate your visa.
  • Make sure you have applied for a Tax file Number (TFN), so you do not end up paying more tax than you need.
  • You should receive regular payslips as confirmation of your pay and any tax paid.

Working hours

  • A legally binding signed contract will detail your payment, agreed hours and conditions of employment. This will also tell you all the breaks you are entitled to, and any notice periods required.
  • You’re legally allowed to work up to 40 hours every fortnight. Be careful to manage this appropriately otherwise your student visa is at risk.
  • During holiday periods, there are no restrictions. You can work as many hours as you are comfortable with.

Supportive environment

  • All Australian employees are entitled to work in a safe and supportive environment.
  • You should always feel physically and mentally safe at work. Any discrimination based on gender, race, marital status or sexual preference is entirely inappropriate and illegal.
  • It is the responsibility of your employer to ensure that no such discrimination or bullying takes place at work.
  • You are legally entitled to query any of your rights or conditions without fear of losing your job.
  • You cannot be penalised if you are sick or become injured. Your employer must have insurance in place that protects you against this.

What you will need to do

Before you hit the job search, make sure you are prepared and ready to go with a little bit of research done in advance.

  • Calculate your fair wage using the pay calculator
  • Apply for your Tax File Number
  • Open an Australian bank account
  • Download an app to track your hours – that way you won’t need to worry about going over your allocation
  • Brush up on your rights as an employee in Australia

Need more help?

Student support services

  • NSW International Student Legal Service support line: 02 9698 7645
  • QLD International Student support line: 1800 QSTUDY (1800 778 839)
  • Study Melbourne Student Centre: 1800 056 449

You can also contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or online for free information and advice.

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