If your visa allows you to work while you are in Australia, you have the right to good working conditions and at least the minimum wage.

We provide free legal advice on working

As an international student, how many hours can you work? What does ‘cash-in-hand’ mean? What is the minimum wage you should be paid?


We have a free, confidential and independent legal service by employment lawyers for international students.

Students who have used this said:

  • “I really appreciate that you are supporting people like me who [feel like we don’t] have protection against the big companies, it is really important.”
  • “I don't know how [to show] my appreciation to you… If it were not for you, I would have gone back to my country.”

To use the International Students’ Work Rights Legal Service, see our web page, Legal advice on working.

Can you work in Australia?

If you are not sure, check the Department of Home Affairs web page on Workplace rights for all visa holders working in Australia.

What are your rights at work?

The Fair Work Ombudsman website has lots of information such as:

  • pay calculator – use this to find out how much you can expect to get paid
  • how much holidays and time-off you can get
  • what to expect when your job ends.

It has content in many languages, such as Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Chinese, and Español.

Video on work rights. Credit: Fair Work Ombudsman

Here is some information to help you get started.
This is non-exhaustive. For more information, visit Fair Work Ombudsman website or speak to a lawyer.


Full-time, part-time or casual?

Your entitlements depend on your type of employment.

Full-time employees work about 38 hours per week. They can get annual leave and paid sick leave, as well as other entitlements.

Part-time employees usually work less than 38 hours per week. They can get annual leave in proportion to the hours they work. They can get sick and carer’s leave.

Casual employees are not guaranteed hours of work—this means employers do not have to give them work and can also them to work at short notice. Casual staff do not get paid leave. They are entitled to a higher pay rate than full- or part-time staff doing the same work (called ‘casual loading’) because they do not get benefits such as sick or annual leave.

See the Fair Work Ombudsman web page, Types of employees.


Employee or independent contractor?

Your rights and entitlements depend on whether you are an employee or an independent contractor.

Employees work for someone else’s business. They have the right to minimum wage,  superannuation and workers’ compensation insurance. Their income tax is deducted by their employer.

Independent contractors run their own business using their own ABN. They do not have a minimum pay rate—they negotiate pay as part of their contract. They must pay their own tax and have their own insurance.

The nature of your work will show whether you are an employee or an independent contractor according to law. It does not matter how your employer or you see it.

See the Fair Work Ombudsman web page, Independent contractors and employees.


Does an Award or Agreement cover your work?

Registered agreements, awards or legislation cover the minimum pay and conditions at work. It is good to check if your job has an award or registered agreement.

Awards set out the minimum pay and conditions for people working in a certain industry. Not all industries have this.

Some industries that have awards are: retail and hospitality. So, if you work in a café or a clothing store, your work is covered by an award.

Registered agreements set out the pay and working conditions for employees working for a certain business or group of businesses. Not all businesses or group of businesses have this.

See the Fair Work Ombudsman web page, Awards and agreements.