If you’re an international student, your work rights are limited by Australian Immigration Law. But it can be challenged to understand your rights about compensation and hours, whilst living and studying in a new nation.
How many hours can an international student work per week?
Students and their dependent partner can work up to 40 hours per fortnight while the course is in session and unlimited hours when the course is not in session. Students undertaking Masters or Doctoral studies will have unlimited work rights.
“Take, for example, Sivana who is working while studying in Australia on a Vocational Education and Training (subclass 572) visa. If he works 7 hours in one week, and then 35 hours the following week, he’ll be breaching his visa conditions.”
Edison is happy with a number of hours he can work. Edison is an international student from China and is currently studying for his Master of Professional Accounting.” I work around 12 to 15 hours per week. That is enough hours for me.” said – Edison
What is the minimum hourly pay?
The minimum wage in Australia for all workers over 21 years is set at $ 18.93 per hour for part-time workers and $23.66 for casual employment. Casual workers are entitled to at least a 25 per cent casual loading on top of this. International students are usually working on a part-time or casual basis, which affects the pay rate. “Part-time employees have regular, guaranteed hours each week, and they receive conditions like paid annual leave and paid sick leave. Casual employees work on an hourly or daily basis and are less likely to have regular or guaranteed hours of work. Casual employees don’t get paid sick leave or annual leave.
Roden has found work above the minimum hourly rate. Roden is an international student from East Malaysia who is currently studying his Master of Biomedical Engineering. “I just started a new job two weeks ago. I am earning about $40 per hour. For a year and a half, I worked in a job where I was only getting paid $10 an hour. I knew it was too low but I had to work.” – Roden
What do you get paid working on weekends and public holidays?
As an encouragement, many workers are entitled to special rates when they work at nights, on weekends or on public holidays
“For instance, Silvana is a 20-year-old student working as casual cleaner under the Cleaning Services Award. She is entitled to $23.66/hr for basic pay, $26.47/hr for a night shift, $33.09/hr on a Saturday and $52/hr on public holiday.”
Public holidays in Australia include Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year’s Day and Australia Day.
What can you do if your rights are breached by your employer?
- Contact a community legal centre or specialist legal service. A number of these provide free advice and assistance to write a letter of demand to the employer, and in a small number of cases will represent the worker in a claim against the employer.
- Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) on the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94 or through an interpreter service on 13 14 50. The FWO may point the worker to relevant materials on their website to help them work out their entitlements or may contact the employer. In a small number of cases, the FWO may provide further help to the worker or may investigate further.
- File a claim in Small Claims Court. Though this option is open to anyone, and a guide to filing a claim is available on the FWO website, most international students will likely require advice and assistance to do this.
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A freelance writer, graduated from Curtin University, specialises in commercial writing, love travel and enjoy walking on the beach, Michelle also feeds on Psychology and will give away just about anything to cuddle with furry felines.