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Workers rights and restrictions

All workers in Australia have the same rights and protections at work, regardless of citizenship or visa status. Your employer must comply with Australian workplace and immigration laws, including their obligation to:

  • pay you the right pay rate for all time worked
  • provide a safe workplace.

These rights can’t be taken away by contracts or agreements. Pay rates and workplace conditions are set by Australian law.

If you hold a temporary visa with work rights and have not complied with your visa conditions due to workplace exploitation, we will generally not cancel your visa, detain or remove you from Australia if you have:

  • sought advice or assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman and you are assisting them with their inquiries
  • not complied with the work-related conditions only and there is no other basis for visa cancellation
  • committed to abiding by visa conditions in the future.

We work with the Fair Work Ombudsman to support and encourage foreign nationals to come forward with any evidence or information about exploitation.

Work Restrictions

Only Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens holding Special Category (subclass 444) visas have no conditions placed on working in Australia.

Other visas carry conditions on working such as Student and Working Holiday Maker visas.

It’s important to know the rules for your visa. Your visa may limit:

  • the type of work you can do in Australia
  • how many hours you can work
  • what job you can do

Know your rights in the workplace

  • There are minimum pay rates that you must be paid for all time that you work.
  • You must get a pay slip each time you are paid.
  • If you are being paid less than the minimum rate or not receiving a pay slip, your employer is breaking the law.
  • There are other rules about work in Australia such as the times you can work and how often you have a break.  To find information about the minimum pay rates and entitlements for your job Fair Work Ombudsman.

Working in Australia on a visa

Do:

  • Check and follow the rules for your visa.
  • Remember it is against the law for a person to ask you to pay money for a job or a visa. Be wary of job offers that require you to make an upfront payment or give back some of your pay.
  • Keep your passport and travel documents with you. It is a crime for your employer or anyone else to take your passport or personal items from you.
  • Know that your employer can’t cancel your visa, even if it’s been breached. Only the Department of Home Affairs can grant, refuse or cancel visas.
  • Seek help if your employer threatens to cancel your visa, report you to the Department or force you to perform work duties that you are not comfortable doing. Find information about workplace conditions at the Fair Work Ombudsman.
  • Know that it is a serious criminal offence for an employer to force you to work by threatening or deceiving you, restricting your freedom to leave or forcing you to pay off an unexplained debt. This behaviour should be reported to the Australian Federal Police on 131 237.

Don’t:

  • Enter into work arrangements with people who promise permanent residence in Australia. Only the Department of Home Affairs can grant permanent residency.
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