Every person working in Australia is entitled to basic rights and safeguards in the workplace, including minimum pay and conditions. The Fair Work Ombudsman makes sure that these rights are protected and enforced fairly as per Australia’s workplace laws.
Like many international students, you may get a part time or casual job to help pay your living expenses while you study in Australia. It is important that you know your rights in the workplace in order to protect yourself from being exploited. Most international students and their partners are allowed to work limited hours when classes are in session and may qualify as part-time or casual employees.
Part-time employees work regular hours each week, but less than the 38 hours of full-time employees. You generally receive the same benefits as full-time workers, but they are generally calculated on pro-rata basis depending on the number of hours you work.
Casual employees work on an hourly or daily basis and are less likely to have regular or guaranteed hours of work. Casual employees do not get paid sick leave or annual leave, but the rates of pay are usually higher to make up for this.
Overtime is when an employee works extra time. It can include work done:
- beyond their ordinary hours of work
- outside the agreed number of hours
- outside the spread of ordinary hours.
The spread of hours is the times of the day ordinary hours can be worked (eg. between 7am – 7pm).
Your minimum rights and conditions at work may be set by a legal document like an award, an agreement, or a contract of employment. Before you start work it is in your best interests to ask your employer which one applies to you to find out how you are being affected.
If an award or agreement does not apply, all employees in the national workplace relations system receive basic minimum pay, conditions and protections under Commonwealth workplace laws.
If you are asked to sign any type of document agreeing to specific work conditions, make sure you read it very carefully and understand it before signing anything and always keep a copy for your records. You should not feel undue pressure to sign any agreement with an employer, if you do, you contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 for advice.
You can read more about your rights and obligations while you work in Australia as well as download theinternational students factsheet at the Fair Work website.