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.

Know your rights

The Fair Work Ombudsman website has information about your rights to pay, holidays and time off, other entitlements and what to expect when your job ends.

To find out what you can expect to be paid, look at the pay calculator on The Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Find out about Workplace rights for all visa holders working in Australia on the Department of Home Affairs website.

In Australia, you’re protected at work. Watch this short video to find out how. See more videos like this on the Fair Work Ombudsman YouTube channel.

Legal advice about work rights

The International Students Work Rights Legal Service offers free, confidential and independent legal advice for international students with work problems (excluding migration) or who want to know their rights at work.

A specialist employment lawyer is available at the Study Melbourne Student Centre every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  The Study Melbourne Student Centre is located at 17 Hardware Lane Melbourne.

For more information or to make an appointment email info@studymelbourne.vic.gov.au or call 1800 056 449 (free call from landlines)

Full time, part time or casual

Under Australian law, your rights are different depending on what type of worker you are.

Full time employees work about 38 hour a week. If you are a full time employee you also get annual leave and paid sick leave as well as a number of other entitlements.

Part time employees work less than 38 hours per week on average. If you are a part time employee you get the same benefits as a full time employee, at a rate in proportion to the amount of time you work. For example if you work one day per week, your leave entitlements are one fifth of the entitlements of someone who works five days per week.

Casual employees have no guaranteed hours of work. As a casual employee your employer does not have to give you work, or they can ask you to work at short notice. Casual employees do not get paid leave. Casual employees are entitled to casual loading - a higher hourly rate. This additional loading is to compensate for not getting leave entitlements.

Read about the different types of work on the Fairwork Ombudsman website.

Employee or independent contractor?

Under Australian law, your rights are different depending on whether you are an employee or an independent contractor (working with an ABN).

Employees work for someone else’s business. If you are an employee you have the right to entitlements including minimum wage and superannuation, and your employer must pay your tax and workers compensation insurance.

Independent contractors run their own business. If you are an independent contractor, you don’t have a minimum pay rate but instead negotiate payment as part of your contract. You must also pay your own tax and take out your own insurance.

An employer is breaking the law if they tell you that you are an independent contractor and you are actually an employee. It is irrelevant what you agree with your boss, or what your boss tells you.

Understand whether you are an independent contractor or an employee by reading the Independent contractors and employees factsheet on the  Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Awards and Enterprise Agreements

Depending where you work your employment may be covered by an Award or an Enterprise Agreement.

Awards are legal documents that outline the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment for employees working in a specific industry or occupation. Examples of specific industries are the 'retail industry' or the 'fast food industry'.

Enterprise Agreements set out the pay rates and working conditions for all employees working for a particular business or group of businesses. Not all businesses or group of businesses have an Enterprise Agreement.

To find out whether you are covered by an Award or an Enterprise Agreement contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.

Employment contracts

An employment contract is an agreement between an employer and an employee that sets out the terms and conditions of employment, including pay rates and days of work. Employment contracts should also set out whether someone is full-time, part-time or casual. A contract can be in writing, but it can also be verbal (based on a spoken agreement between the employer and the employee).  

An employment contract cannot set out terms and conditions that are less favourable than the entitlements provided under Australian law (including what is set out in relevant Awards and Enterprise Agreements). If an employment contract tries to do this, it is invalid.

Information in languages other than English

If you need an interpreter or translator, contact the Translating and Interpreting Service (TIS). This service may require you to pay a fee.

The Fairwork Ombudsman website has information in 27 different languages to help you understand your rights when you are working in Australia.

Visit the language help page on the Fairwork Ombudsman website to find out more.