International Workers' rights in Australia

6 April 2016
Congratulations on your decision to come and work in Australia!

Australia is a great place to work because our laws give workers a lot of rights and protection. These laws mean your employer has to pay you the right amount for your work, give you time off, and make your workplace safe for you. We also have organisations that can help you if your employer does not do the right thing. You have several rights as a worker while you are in Australia.

Rights for international workers

The most important thing you need to know is how you get paid: Your sponsoring or nominating employer must pay you as much as they would pay an Australian citizen doing your job. The minimum wage in Australia in 2016 is $17.29 per hour, which is $656.90 for a 38-hour work week (before tax).

Your employer must pay you in a way that the Department of Immigration can check, such as electronic funds transfer (EFT) or cheques. They can only pay you in cash if they charge your tax correctly.

Your employer must give you a payslip within 1 day of your pay day. Your payslip will list how many hours you worked, how much you have been paid, how much tax was charged, and how much superannuation was paid.

You can use the Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) to find information on pay rates, shift calculations, leave (vacation days and sick days), and entitlements when you are fired such as notice and redundancy pay.

Your sponsoring or nominating employer must also:

  • Pay you superannuation. This is a form of retirement savings in Australia.
  • Only give you work in the occupation or activity that you came here to do.
  • Not charge you any of their costs, such as recruitment fees, sponsorship or nomination fees, or migration agent fees.
  • Pay travel costs that are reasonable and necessary and requested by you in writing, so that you and your family can leave Australia.
  • Tell the Department of Immigration when your duties at work change or your employment with them ends.
  • Cooperate with inspectors from the Department of Immigration or the Fair Work Ombudsman.
  • Not make you work for anyone else without authorisation.
  • Keep records to prove that they have done the right thing as your sponsor.

10 Minimum working conditions in Australia

There are also 10 minimum working conditions that everyone in Australia (domestic & international workers) must receive (National Employment Standards):

1. Hours of work per week

A worker’s ordinary weekly working hours cannot be more than 38 hours. If you work more than 38 hours, you must be paid extra (overtime rates) or be given extra time off later.

2. Flexible work

Your employer should agree if you ask your employer for flexible work such as changing when you start work and finish work each day, or working from home. You must have worked for that employer for at least 12 months, or you must be a parent, carer, disabled, older than 55 years old, or experiencing domestic violence.

3. Parental leave

Workers get 18 weeks of paid time off when a child is born or when they adopt a child. You must have worked for that employer for at least 12 months in order to receive this paid time off.

4. Annual leave

Full-time and part-time workers get 4 weeks of annual leave every year. This leave adds up over the year for every day that you work.

5. Sick leave and carer’s leave

Workers get paid time off when they are sick with a personal illness or injured, or they need to take care of a family member who is sick or injured.

6. Community service leave

Workers get unpaid time off to volunteer after a natural disaster for emergency management services such as the SES.

7. Long service leave

Workers get extra paid time off when they have been working for a company for many years. The amount of extra paid time off and how long they have been working is different in the States and Territories in Australia.

8. Public holidays

Workers get paid time off on public holidays. You can find out what the public holidays are in your State or Territory in Australia.

9. Getting fired or redundancy

Employers must give workers notice if they want to fire them. If you have been working for this employer for 1 year or less, they must give you 1 week’s notice before they fire you. Workers may also have to give their employer notice if they want to quit their job. You can use the Notice and Redundancy Calculator to find out what notice is needed.

10. Information

Employers must give new workers a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement.

Different jobs are covered by employment awards and agreements that give extra rights to everyone working in your industry or your job. Ask your employer or visit the website to find out what award or agreement covers your job.

You can find out more about your rights as a worker in Australia on the government’s Department of Immigration and websites.


Discrimination is when an employer treats you worse than other workers because of who you are. It is illegal for anyone to discriminate against you at work because of your:

  • Race
  • Colour of your skin
  • Gender (male/female/transgender)
  • Sexual preference
  • Age
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Marital status
  • Family or carer’s responsibilities
  • Pregnancy
  • Religion
  • Political opinion
  • National extraction or social origin

If your employer discriminates against you, you should contact the Fair Work Ombudsman by phoning 13 13 94. You can get an interpreter or translator from the Translating and Interpreting Service to help you; phone 13 14 50.

Safety at work

Your employer must make sure the place where you work is safe. They must train you about how to do your job safely, give you safe equipment to use, give you a safe way to do your job, and supervise your work.

Tell your employer straight away if you find a problem with safety at your workplace. If you have an injury at work or get sick because of your work, you have to tell your employer straight away. Your employer must pay your medical expenses if you are injured or get sick because of your work.

If your employer does not fix a problem with safety at your workplace, you should contact Safe Work Australia or the Safe Work authority in your State or Territory.

Where to get help

If your employer is not doing what they should for you as a 457 worker or a working visa worker, you should try to work it out with them first. You can get some tips on how to do this on the website.

If your employer doesn’t fix the problem, you should contact the Department of Immigration. They take these issues very seriously and will make your employer do the right thing. If you need an interpreter or translator, you should phone the Translating and Interpreting Service on 13 14 50.

You need working visa health cover

If you want to come to Australia to work, you will need working visa health cover before you apply for a working visa. Find the insurance that provides outstanding value in features and price for international workers. Compare working visa health cover in Australia on the CANSTAR website.

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