Work Rights

If you don’t have any work experience at all, we encourage you to apply to become volunteer in an organisation or work performed as part of a formal, registered course.

Requests for flexible working arrangements

As an international student, you can request flexible working arrangements at your workplace. These arrangements can be:

  • Hours of work (eg. changes to start and finish times)
  • Patterns of work (eg. split shifts or job sharing)
  • Locations of work (eg. working from home).

Before requesting flexible working arrangements you need to be working for the same employer at least 12 months. After this period you can request flexible arrangement if you:

  • are the parent, or have responsibility for the care, of a child who is school aged or younger
  • are a carer
  • have a disability
  • are 55 or older
  • are experiencing family or domestic violence, or
  • provide care or support to a member of their household or immediate family who requires care and support because of family or domestic violence.

If you are a casual employee, you can make a request if:

  • you’ve been working for the same employer regularly and systematically for at least 12 months
  • there’s a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis

Parental leave and related entitlements

There are some cases that international students come to Australia and are expecting to have a child. If this is your case you should know that you have the right to take parental leave, even if is your partner who is going to give birth. Also, if you decide to adopt a child under 16 years old while you are studying in Australia you can take parental leave.

You are entitled to 12 months of unpaid parental leave, and you can request an additional 12 months of leave if you need it. There are some conditions you need to know before request parental leave:

  • You have worked for your employer for at least 12 months
  • before the date or expected date of birth if the employee is pregnant
  • before the date of the adoption, or
  • when the leave starts (if the leave is taken after another person cares for the child or takes parental leave)
  • have or will have responsibility for the care of a child.

For casual employees to be eligible for unpaid parental leave they need to have:

  • been working for their employer on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months
  • a reasonable expectation of continuing work with the employer on a regular and systematic basis had it not been for the birth or adoption of a child.

Annual leave

All employees (except for casual employees) get paid annual leave. Full-time and part-time employees get 4 weeks of annual leave, based on their ordinary hours of work.

Example: annual leave for part-time employees

Jane is a part-time employee who works 20 hours per week for a year. During one year, she will accumulate 80 hours of annual leave (the equivalent of 4 weeks work for her).

Public holidays

Public holidays can be different depending on the state or territory you work in. It’s important to know when public holidays are because employees can get different entitlements on these days.  Go to the List of public holidays of Fairwork website for a full list of public holidays in your state or territory.

Notice of termination and redundancy pay

A notice period is the length of time that an employee or employer has to give to end employment. To end an employee’s employment, an employer has to give them written notice of their last day of employment. Redundancy happens when an employer either:

  • doesn’t need an employee’s job to be done by anyone, or
  • becomes insolvent or bankrupt.

Redundancy can happen when the business:

  • introduces new technology (eg. the job can be done by a machine)
  • slows down due to lower sales or production
  • closes down
  • relocates interstate or overseas
  • restructures or reorganises because a merger or takeover happens

Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement

Employers have to give every new employee a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement before, or as soon as possible after, they start their new job. This provides new employees with information about their conditions of employment, such as:

  • The National Employment Standards
  • Right to request flexible working arrangements
  • Modern awards
  • Making agreements under the Fair Work Act
  • Individual flexibility arrangements
  • Freedom of association and workplace rights (General protections)
  • Termination of employment
  • Right of entry
  • The role of the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission.

For more information on work rights, please go to the Australian Government Jobs and Workplace website.

If you feel if your work rights have been violated, please do not hesitate to report a grievance to us or talk to one of the Community Legal Centres in your state.