Working in Australia

Employment Safety: What Are Your Rights?

As an employee in Australia, you are entitled to many basic rights in the workplace. For the most part, workplace laws here apply to all workers employed in Australia and employers of foreign workers have to comply with immigration laws as well as Australian workplace laws.

Allianz Global Assistance Overseas Health - Employment Safety: What Are Your Rights?

These laws, which include minimum pay rates, are enforced by the Fair Work Ombudsman. They cover modern awards and enterprise agreements. The most useful website you can visit to learn more about your rights is the Australian Government’s Fair Work site.

So, let’s take a look at your rights surrounding minimum wage, leaving your job, bullying, redundancies, superannuation and more.

Employment safety

Every person who is employed deserves to work in a safe, healthy workplace. Your employer has a responsibility to keep all employees safe and that includes physically and mentally.

If you feel that you are working in an unsafe workplace, or that the quality of your health is being negatively impacted, you can report any concerns to the Safe Work Australia department in your state. Usually, however, the first thing you should do is bring it to the attention of your employer.

Minimum pay

As an employee in Australia – whether you’re from overseas or you are an Australian citizen – you are entitled to the same minimum pay. If you are aged 21 or over, you cannot be paid less than the minimum wage which is determined by the Minimum Wages Panel of the Fair Work Commission.

You will be paid according to the relevant award or agreement under which you were employed. You may also be paid a higher rate for working overtime or penalty rates for shifts that occur outside of ordinary working hours such as weekends, nights or public holidays, depending on your job.

If you feel your employer is not paying you correctly, you must contact the Fair Work Ombudsman and report the situation. Whether you have not been paid properly for an extended period of time or even for one week, you are entitled to have that money back-paid to you. This page may be useful to you if you prefer information in your own language.

Exiting your job

There are many reasons for exiting your job. Perhaps your employer’s business is closing down due to financial difficulties or there is a clash of personalities and you can longer work there (or you are being asked to leave).

Depending on the type of visa you have, exiting your job could be simple or complicated. For example, if you’re on a temporary working visa and your role is terminated, you will no longer be fulfilling the conditions of your visa. If this is you, you need to notify the Department of Home Affairs within 28 days of your job ending.

Then you will have 60 days to either leave Australia, apply for and be granted another visa or find another employer to sponsor you. Your sponsor is legally responsible to pay for your travel costs and those of your family to return home, if you don’t find alternative employment with a new sponsor.

If your job situation has changed, this page can help you determine what to do next. Simply enter the type of visa you have and you will be led to the right place.

Bullying

No person should be subjected to bullying or other forms of harassment. Here too, the Fair Work Ombudsman can help. You are entitled to be treated fairly and within the law and any form of bullying or harassment is unlawful. This could include racial discrimination, being taunted because of your accent, made to perform tasks that are outside of your usual duties, being physically or verbally abused and being excluded from activities available to other employees.

If you are asked to perform work for free such as in an unpaid trial, ‘work experience’ or a supposed internship, it’s important that you ask for clarification as to why you will not be paid. When in doubt, consult the Fair Work Ombudsman before agreeing to do any unpaid work as this could go against the terms of your visa.

Redundancies

As a migrant worker on a work visa, you may not be entitled to redundancy because you may have been employed for a specific period of time, under the conditions of your visa. This page can help you find the information you need.

Superannuation

In Australia, superannuation is a compulsory payment paid to employees by their employer. You will receive a minimum of 9.5% of your wages as long as you are aged over 18 and you earn greater than $450 per month from that employer. You will receive ‘super’ whether you are a permanent or casual worker and whether you are a resident or non-resident for tax purposes.

When you leave Australia, you could be eligible to claim a DASP (Departing Australian Superannuation Payment). The Australian Taxation Office’s website can help you with more information.

Your rights to help from the Fair Work Ombudsman

The Fair Work Ombudsman is available to help you. You will not get into trouble or have your visa cancelled just because you contact the Ombudsman for help about your pay or other entitlements.

As a migrant or temporary work visa holder working in Australia, you are rightfully entitled to the same standards of working conditions, the same minimum pay and the same health and safety situations as any Australian in your workplace.

Where possible, take any grievances to your employer but if that fails and you are still concerned, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman or other authorities.