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Worker’s Rights for Those on a Working Visa

Revolution Law

April 26

Australia is a large country, and most of us rely on our cars to get where we need to go. Having a Despite restrictions on travel due to COVID-19 over the past few years, Australia still has more than 1.6 million people in the country on temporary and permanent visas. Some of those people are simply here to visit and travel, but many will stay longer to study, work and spend time in our beautiful country. Australia maintains friendly relationships with countries all over the world, offering easy access to travel and working visas for those looking to visit our shores. Coming to Australia on a working visa allows you to find employment during your stay. But, are you entitled to the same rights and protections as other employees in the country? In this blog we will explore working visas and the rights they grant to travellers.

Which Australian Visas Grant the Right to Work?

Australia is a nation built on tourism and migration. A large proportion of our working population are in the country on working visas. In fact, there are more than 120 different kinds of Australian visa, many of which offer the right to work. The most common types of working visa include:

  • Student and Graduate Visas. Student and graduate visas allow international students some right to work during their stay in Australia. There are usually restrictions placed on the amount of hours the student can work and whether or not they must remain enrolled in education.
  • Working Holiday Visas. Plenty of Australia’s tourists come with the intention of working as they travel. Working holiday visas allow people to stay in Australia for 12 months and perform short-term work to fund their travel. Working holiday makers can only work for each employer for 6 months.
  • Skilled Occupation Visas. There are several classes of skilled occupation visas that allow skilled workers to work in the country. Travellers who work in a Skilled Occupation can apply for a visa that entitles them to stay and work in Australia permanently.
  • New Zealand Visas. Australia and New Zealand have always held a close political relationship. New Zealand residents normally do not need to apply for a visa when entering Australia. Instead, NZ citizens with a valid passport are issued a temporary visa that allows them to work and study. The visa ceases automatically when you leave Australia.

Rights of Australian Working Visa Holders

Australia’s workplace laws apply equally to everyone who is employed in the country. That includes both natural citizens and foreign workers who are here on a working visa. While the visa you hold can restrict the type and hours of work you may perform, visa holders are protected by the National Employment Standards (NES) and Commonwealth workplace laws.

Visa holders are entitled to:

  • At least the minimum wage (currently $20.33)
  • Payslips, superannuation and the payment of tax
  • Safe working conditions
  • Limits on the maximum hours they can work per week
  • Annual, personal and compassionate leave
  • Public holidays
  • Termination notice and redundancy pay
  • The right for some casual employees to become permanent employees

In Australia, the minimum rights and conditions of work are set out in documents called awards. Most industries receive their own award agreement. To find out more about your rights, ask your employer which award applies to you.

Exploitation of Visa Holders

Unfortunately, while visa holders are entitled to the same workplace rights as other employees in Australia, some employers may still attempt to take advantage of foreign workers. In addition to minimum employment entitlements, it is also illegal for employers to circumvent requirements by classifying their employees as independent contractors. Other common exploitation tactics include underpaying employees, failing to pay tax or superannuation, unlawful deductions from wages and threats to cancel your visa. Your employer has no power to cancel visas of any type. Only the Department of Home Affairs may issue, refuse or cancel a working visa.

Visa holders working in Australia should seek help from the Fair Work Ombudsman if they are experiencing exploitation. If exploitative or unfair workplace treatment has resulted in you being injured at work, you may also be entitled to make a worker’s compensation claim against your employer.

Have You Been Injured at Work? Contact Your Revolution Lawyer Today

Australia’s workplaces are built on the legal rights that underpin all work in the country. Working visa holders are entitled to all the same rights and protections as other Australian employees. If you have been exploited by your employer and it has led to an injury, you can file a claim and pursue compensation for any suffering and expenses you encounter. Speak to your local Revolution Law team today. Our experienced compensation Lawyers can ensure your situation is properly documented and help file any claims you are entitled to make. Contact us online and let us help you get back to work sooner.


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