Working in Australia


Working in Australia

In Australia, employees have rights that are protected by law. These include:

  • how much they must be paid
  • the conditions they should get such as the right to take leave or time off work and
  • protections from discrimination

Australian workplace laws cuddle all employees including those from overseas. They apply regardless of the length of a person stay or their visa type. All employers must follow these laws.

Minimum pay rates

In Australia, there are minimum pay rates set for different jobs. All employees must get paid the minimum rate for their job. They should receive the minimum rate for all the hours they work. Employers and employees can't agree to lower pay rates. Employees must be paid money and not in goods or services like food, clothing or accommodation. Minimum pay rates are reviewed every year and generally increase on 1st of July. There are also rules about when an employee can work, the breaks they should take and the number of hours they can work.

The fair work ombudsman

The fair work ombudsman provides free information and advice to help employers and employees understand Australia's workplace laws. You cannot get in trouble for contacting the Fair Work Ombudsman to ask for information about your pay or other entitlements. Remember if you're an employer, the Fair Work Ombudsman can help you understand your obligations to your employees. To contact the fair work ombudsman visit or call the fair work infoline on 131 394.
If you need an interpreter, call the translating and interpreting service on 131 450 to talk with us in your language for free.

If you are studying in Australia on a student visa, you can work part-time and do not need to apply for a work visa. Before you start working, it is very important that you are aware of the working conditions that are attached to your student visa:

  • You cannot start working until you have commenced your course
  • Once your course has started, you can work up to 40 hours per fortnight while your course is in session (first day of the term until the last day of exams)
  • During official University vacation periods (as per the academic calendar), you can work unlimited hours.
  • If you are studying a Masters by Research or a PhD, you can work unlimited hours once your course has started. However, you must ensure it does not impact on your progress.

Please note, work that is a formal registered part of your course is not included in the limit of 40 hours per fortnight. Voluntary, unpaid work is also not included in those hours.

If you breach your work conditions, your visa may be subject to cancellation.

For more information, visit the Work conditions for Student visa holders section of the Department of Home Affairs website.

Employability Training for International Students

CQUniversity has partnered with Successful Graduate to offer The Finding Part-Time Work Course to all international students who have an offer to study at CQUniversity.

The course is free, self-paced and non-compulsory. It has been carefully tailored to increase your chances of finding a part-time or casual job while you study – and guide you to develop your employability skills in general.

Once you have received an offer to study at CQUniversity, you will be provided with information on how to enrol in this free course.

Tax File Number

Before you start working in Australia, you will need to apply for a tax file number (TFN) through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). If you are employed, your employer will deduct income tax from your salary. At the end of each financial year, each employer will issue you with a Payment Summary showing your income and tax deductions for that financial year (1 July – 30 June).

If you earn any income during a financial year, you will have to submit a tax return using the information on your Payment Summary/ies. Tax Returns can be completed online using mytax or through an accountant. The ATO classifies international students studying in the country for six months or more as residents for taxation purposes.

Your Work Rights

Pay rates and workplace conditions are set by Australian law. All people working in Australia, including those from overseas (and on student visas) have rights and protections at work. These cannot be taken away by contracts or agreements. If you have questions about your pay and conditions while in Australia, you can contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for free help.