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Working Whilst Studying

You must comply with the state and territory laws of Australia. The number of hours you can work in Australia can be found in your visa conditions.

Work limitations:

You and your dependants (if any) can only work after you have commenced your course. You and your dependants (if any) must adhere to the work hour restrictions.

Information for:

Course in session

Course not in session

Students who have started a coursework degree
Subclass: 500, 573, 575 and 576

40 hours per fortnight

Unlimited hours

Students who have started a research degree
Subclass: 500 or 574

Unlimited hours

Dependants of a student visa holder enrolled in a Master or Doctorate degree

Unlimited hours

All other dependants

40 hours per fortnight

Your rights at work:

It is very important to know your rights at work and ensure that you are fairly treated by your employers. There have been many cases where international students become targets for labour abuse due to their lack of knowledge and information.

There are general conditions that most workers are entitled to in Australia, you should check your award or agreement for the specific conditions that apply to you.

Be aware of:

Unpaid trials are against the law. You should be paid for all hours you work, including trial shifts, meetings or training. Your employer should pay you at least the legal minimum rate shown in your award or agreement. Your employer can pay you more than the minimum rate, but not less. The Fair Work Ombudsman website has a section called PayCheckPlus where you can search for awards and pay rates online. Please vist:

Think twice if your employer wants to have you as an independent contractor. You must have an Australian Business Number (ABN) to work as an independent contractor; you are also liable for your own tax, superannuation and workplace insurance; you have fewer workplace rights and entitlements such as paid leave.

Under no circumstance employers are allowed to take money out of your pay to cover customers who leave without paying or if the tills are down.

You should always receive a pay slip for every pay period if you work for a registered business. If you are not getting a pay slip ask your employer.

You might be entitled to penalty rates (more money) for overtime, nights, weekends or public holidays work. Ask your employer or check your agreement.

If you are getting paid in cash, check your pay slip to make sure you have received the minimum legal entitlements and that tax has been deducted out of your pay. ‘Cash in hand’ means that you are paid in cash without tax being taken from your earnings. Being paid ‘cash in hand’ is against the law.

You cannot be dismissed if you were sick or injured or on the basis of your gender, race, colour, marital status, pregnancy or religion.

Shifts and holidays:

You should start and finish your shift at the rostered time regardless of the workload, unless you and your employer agree otherwise.

You should get a 30 minute unpaid break after every five hours work.

You can refuse to working on a public holiday if you have reasonable grounds. What is considered reasonable grounds depends on the kind of work you do, along with your personal circumstances, including family responsibilities, and other relevant factors.

Terminating a job:

If you want to resign, you usually have to inform your employer in advance. If not enough notice is given, they may be able to keep some of your pay to cover the period.

If you are a casual worker your employment may be ceased, by you or your employer, at one hour’s notice.

Seeking help:

  • Free and confidential legal advice on your rights at work: Legal Aid ACT Ph: 02 6243 3471
  • Free and confidential information and advice on wages, working conditions, awards and agreements: Fair Work Infoline Phone: 13 13 94
  • Free and confidential information and advice on unfair / unlawful dismissal: Fair Work Ombudsman Phone: 1300 799 675
  • Tax enquiries Australian Taxation Office: Phone: 13 28 61
  • Superannuation enquiries Australian Taxation Office Phone: 13 10 20
  • Free and confidential information and advice on problems with jobs: Careers Services: Phone: 02 6201 2660 Email: In person: Student Central, Level B, Building 1

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