Know your rights

International students working in Australia often face challenges in understanding their rights as employees in the Australian workforce. It’s essential to know that regardless of your employment type, whether casual, part-time, or full-time, as an international student, you are entitled to the same protection rights as any other Australian worker. These rights ensure fairness and equality in the workplace for all individuals, regardless of their nationality or visa status.

What are work rights?

Australia’s workplace laws and regulations provide comprehensive protection for all workers, including international students working part-time on a student visa. These laws ensure that you are treated fairly and have certain rights in the workplace. Here are some key points to be aware of:

Minimum wage and superannuation: You are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage and receive superannuation contributions from your employer.

Protection against unfair dismissal: You are protected by law against unfair dismissal, ensuring that you cannot be terminated without justifiable reasons.

Leave, breaks, and rest periods: You have the right to take leave, breaks, and rest periods as mandated by the law to maintain your health and well-being.

Safe and healthy work environment: Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy work environment, ensuring your safety and well-being while on the job.

To help you navigate these rights and responsibilities, you can download the fact sheet and checklist provided. It offers guidance and practical information to prepare you for working while studying in Australia.

As an international student working in Australia, it’s important to understand that you enjoy the same protections as any Australian worker. Familiarize yourself with the following aspects:

Pay: Australia has a minimum wage, and you must be paid at least that amount as required by law.

Tax obligations: Depending on your income, you may need to pay taxes. Obtain a Tax File Number (TFN) before starting work and provide it to your employer to ensure correct taxation. Remember, you only need to apply for a TFN once, and it remains valid throughout your life.

Payslips: You should receive a payslip within one working day of being paid. Payslips are important documents that provide details of your earnings and deductions.

Work hours: Starting from July 1, 2023, there will be a cap of 48 hours per fortnight for work during study terms and semesters.

Casual work: Australia offers many casual job opportunities, which provide flexibility as you don’t have fixed weekly hours.

Superannuation: If eligible, your employer is required to make superannuation contributions for you as a temporary resident. When leaving Australia, you may be eligible to claim your superannuation payment (DASP). Consult the Australian Taxation Office for more information.

Workers’ Compensation: Australian law mandates that employers have insurance coverage, known as Workers’ Compensation, which provides medical treatment and wage support if you are injured or become ill at work.

The Fair Work Ombudsman, an Australian government agency, plays a crucial role in protecting your rights. You can learn more about their services and assistance in ensuring fair treatment in the workplace.

Employee protection laws

Regardless of your visa status, all workers in Australia are protected by certain laws to ensure fair treatment. Here are some important considerations:

Tax File Number (TFN): To work in Australia, you need to apply for a Tax File Number (TFN) through the Australian Taxation Office.

Superannuation: If you are a temporary resident working in Australia and meet the eligibility criteria, your employer is legally required to make superannuation contributions on your behalf. When you leave Australia, you may be able to claim your superannuation payment (known as Departing Australia Superannuation Payment or DASP) if you meet the requirements. For more information, visit the Australian Taxation Office website.

Workers’ Compensation: Australian law mandates that employers have insurance coverage, known as Workers’ Compensation, which protects workers in case of workplace injuries or illnesses. If such an incident occurs, the insurance may cover your medical treatment expenses or provide wage support until you can resume work.

These provisions ensure that your rights and well-being are safeguarded during your employment in Australia, regardless of your visa status.

Your work rights

It’s important to be aware of your rights as an international student in the workplace and to recognize warning signs that indicate potential violations of those rights. Here are some indicators to watch out for:

Payment in non-monetary forms: Employers cannot offer food or housing instead of wages. While receiving free food is acceptable, it should be in addition to your regular pay. If your employer suggests alternative forms of payment, such as providing goods or services instead of money, it is not allowed. Make it clear to your employer that you must be paid in currency for the work you do.

Requests to return part of your pay: If your employer pays you the correct amount but then asks you to give some of it back in cash, it is referred to as a “cashback scheme,” which is illegal. Even if accidents or losses occur at work, your employer cannot deduct money from your pay without your consent, a written agreement, and tangible benefits for you. Do not participate in cashback schemes, and if you have already done so, you are entitled to recover the deducted amount.

Lack of payslips: It is essential to receive payslips that document your working hours and payment details. Without payslips, you have no official record of your employment. Ensure that you always receive a payslip, whether in physical or electronic form, within one working day of being paid.

Pressure to obtain an ABN: An Australian Business Number (ABN) is typically required for self-employed individuals. However, if you are working under the direction of a boss or manager, you should have a Tax File Number (TFN) instead of an ABN. Verify whether you genuinely need an ABN for your job situation.

If you encounter any of these warning signs, it is crucial to address the issue. Talk to your employer about your concerns or seek assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman, who provides free advice in multiple languages to anyone working in Australia. You can contact them via phone at 13 13 94 or visit their website at

Download and keep with you the ‘Are your work rights safe – warning signs’ flyer so that you’re informed at all times. 

Fair Work Ombudsman

Discover the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO)

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is an independent government agency dedicated to assisting employers and employees in understanding their rights and responsibilities under Australian workplace laws. Their services are completely free!

How the FWO can assist you

The FWO is here to listen and support you. They can:

  • Provide accurate information about your work rights, including pay rates.
  • Offer advice and guidance on workplace issues. Assist you in resolving workplace problems.
  • Refer to the FWO’s fact sheet for more details on the support they provide.

Support for international students

International students have the same work rights as all workers in Australia. The FWO offers advice and assistance to all workers, including international students. You can safely reach out to the FWO if you need help. They provide general advice and also offer an anonymous reporting tool on their website at

Talking to the FWO won’t impact your visa

Your employer does not have the authority to cancel your visa. Only the Department of Home Affairs can make decisions regarding visas. Checking your visa status is not the FWO’s responsibility. Even if you have breached your visa conditions (such as working excessive hours), you can still seek assistance from the FWO. Typically, the Department of Home Affairs does not cancel visas under the Assurance protocol when workplace rights have been violated.

FWO services available in multiple languages

Language is not a barrier when contacting the FWO. They offer their services in various languages, all free of charge.

How to get in touch with the FWO

Contacting the FWO is simple! Just call 13 13 94 or visit their website at

Useful resources and links

For more information on working in Australia as an international student, visit

Refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) flyer to learn about the support they can provide for workplace rights concerns. You can also download the free Record my Hours app, available in 18 different languages, to track your working hours and other work-related details. Find the app at

To determine your correct pay rate and entitlements at work, utilize the PACT Calculator (Pay and Conditions Tool) at

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