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Settlement Guide: What rights do you have at work?

Source: Creative common

It's important for migrants, just like any other Australian, to learn what rights they have as a worker in Australia and how to report exploitation.

"Migrants need to know that their work rights are exactly the same as those of any Australian worker," says Professor Alan Fels, head of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce.

Pay, leave and entitlements

You’re entitled to the minimum hourly wage of $18.29 or $694.90 per 38 hour week (before tax). It can be more than that if you’re a casual employee (with casual loading) or if you qualify for a modern award. Use the Fair Work Ombudsman’s Pay calculator to find out what is your pay rate.  

You can also find out about leave and entitlements on the Fair Work Ombudsman website

Unpaid work

An employer might request that you do an unpaid trial to verify if you have the skills needed.

It’s acceptable, but only for the period of time required to demonstrate the skill, and if you’re supervised.

For example, if you apply for a job as a barista, you won’t need more than a few hours to show that you can do it. 

A barista is seen prepairing a coffee at a cafe in Canberra
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Unpaid internships are only legal if they are part of a vocational placement or a government program.

If that is not the case, there should be no employment relationship between the employer and the person taking the role.

It means that they are there to learn and not to do the work of an employee. It should be for a short period of time, and to the benefit of the person taking the role.

Working under a visa

It’s your responsibility to know what are the working conditions under your visa.

It won’t be the same under a Student Visa as it is under a Working Holiday Visa.

You can find out more through the Department of Immigration and Border Protection

Even if you haven’t abided perfectly to the rule of your visa, you shouldn’t be scared to report exploitation.

"We do have a protocol in place with the Department of Immigration where your visa won't be cancelled if you believe you've been exploited at work and you report those circumstances to us," Mark Lee, Director of Media for the Fair Work Ombudsman tells SBS Radio.

"So you don't need to worry about your visa when coming to us for help."

Reporting exploitation and abuse

Screenshot of the Fair Work Ombudsman website
Fair Work Ombudsman

You can report a case of exploitation at work by calling the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.

If you need an interpreter, call TIS National on 131 450 and they will connect you.

If you don't want to reveal your identity, you can use this anonymous tool, available in 17 languages. 

Safety at work

Workers in Australia are also entitled to a safe workplace. You should speak up if you don’t feel safe.You can get assistance from the government regulator in your state. There’s a list on the Safe Work Australia website.   

Useful links

Fair Work Ombudsman 

Fair Work Ombudsman in 31 languages 

Pay Calculator 

Report a workplace concern anonymously 

Information for visa holders and migrants 

Safe Work Australia