COVID-19 response: International students to be allowed to work additional hours

International student employees will be temporarily allowed to work more than their stipulated hours to support the high demand being faced by Australian supermarkets.


Australia’s major supermarkets will temporarily be able to offer more hours to international student employees. Source: Getty images/Shannon Fagan

  • New scheme available to major supermarkets including Woolworths and Coles, and only for existing employees in their existing roles.
  • Demand has surged for items like toilet paper, medicines, nappies, baby formula, milk powder since the outbreak of COVID-19.
The Department of Home Affairs on Friday announced Australia’s major supermarkets will temporarily be able to offer more hours to international student employees to help keep shelves stocked.

Australian supermarkets have been facing increased demand for essential items because of coronavirus.

International students currently employed at major supermarkets like Woolworths and Coles will be able to extend their working hours to help meet this high demand.

Acting Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alan Tudge said the changes would help supermarkets meet the immediate high demand.

“Supermarkets across the country are struggling to keep shelves stocked with essential items, such as toilet paper, tissues, rice and pasta,” Mr Tudge said.

“To keep up with this demand, supermarkets have told us they need to give extra hours to current staff to stock shelves and serve Australian customers. While many of these will be Australian workers, international students will also be able to increase their hours,” Mr Tudge said.

'Possibility to extend to other sectors'

Acting Minister Tudge said there is a possibility that the scheme may be expanded to other sectors if the need arises.

“The changes are short term and will be reviewed regularly to ensure they are working and that they are still required,” Mr Tudge said.

“We will continue to listen to businesses as the coronavirus situation develops and may consider expanding these measures to assist other sectors if and when required. We will also consider providing flexibility with other temporary visas should the need arise,” he said.

Minister for Education Dan Tehan said the changes would help supermarkets meet immediate demand with their existing workforce and allow international students to support themselves.

“Our government is working to minimise the impact of COVID-19 in the higher education sector, this includes the impact on students supporting themselves while they study,” Mr Tehan said.

“This initiative will give international students more flexibility to work while studying and also allow employers to meet demand during a busy period.”

Indian international students
Source: AAP

‘Great news for students’

Ahmed Ademoglu, the National President of the Council of International Students Australia welcomed the announcement and said this is ‘great news for students’.

“It is a great initiative. I am quite hopeful that a lot of international students will be pleased to learn this,” Mr Ademoglu told SBS Hindi.

“This change and increase needs to be long-term. International students have always helped out – be it the bushfire crisis, helping the communities. I am sure, they will be willing to help out during the COVID-19 crisis too,” he said.

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3 min read
Published 13 March 2020 at 4:25pm
By Mosiqi Acharya