In Australia, the minimum wage is currently set at $18.29 per hour, which is around 695 dollars per week, before tax.
Employees cannot be paid anything less, even if they agree to it.
How much should you be paid?
On top of the minimum wage, there are several factors that can affect how much you get paid.
If you working overnight, on a weekend or on a public holiday, penalty rates mean that you will be paid more. You can find out more about penalty rates on the Fair Work Ombudsman's website, here.
Some modern awards covering specific industries also mean that you can get paid more. You can learn more about modern awards here.
As a casual worker, you get 25% casual loading. It means that you should be paid 25% above the rate of your ordinary hours. It’s a trade-off since you don’t get annual leave or long-service leave entitlements.
Use the Pay Calculator
If you think you might not be paid the right amount or just want to double check, the Fair Work Ombudsman has a calculator to assist you.
You can go to calculate.fairwork.gov.au and answer a few questions to find out what’s the minimum rate that you’re entitled to.
International students and backpackers are at risk of being underpaid
Laurie Berg is a senior lecturer in the Faculty of Law at the University of Technology Sydney. Last year, she conducted a survey with a colleague about wage theft.
They found out that underpayment was widespread among international students and backpackers, across a range of industries and nationalities. “One in three international students was paid about half of the legal minimum wage, and a substantial number were working in conditions that could amount to criminal forced labour," she tells SBS.
While several industries were affected, some like hospitality and fruit and vegetable picking, were worse than others.
Berg says that most nationalities of backpackers and international students are experiencing underpayment.
"Workers from Asian countries, including China, Taiwan, and Vietnam were receiving lower wage rates than those from North America, Ireland and the UK,” she says.
“But, having said that, we were really struck by the finding that severe underpayment was experienced by every major nationality of backpackers and international students in this country. At least 1 in 5 Americans, British, Indians, Brazilians and Chinese all earned roughly half the minimum wage. But for some nationalities, sever underpayment was even more common than that."
How to get help
The Fair Work Ombudsman’s website contains plenty of information about pay, entitlements, leave, etc. It's available in 40 different languages.
If you need to talk to somebody, you can call 13 13 94. Translators are available.
If you want to report a situation anonymously, you can do it here.
You shouldn’t be worried about having your visa revoked if you make a complaint. “We can give people assurance that we’ve developed an agreement with the Department of Immigration so that if somebody comes to us and talk to us about something happening in their workplace and they're cooperating with one of our investigations, we can make sure that they won't suffer any adverse effects to their visa status," says Mark Lee, director of Media for the Fair Work Ombudsman.
The Fair Work Ombudsman website is: fairwork.gov.au
The Faire Work Ombudsman phone number is 13 13 94