Rights of foreign workers in Australia

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The Fair Works Ombudsman released a fact sheet that details the rights of foreign workers in Australia. The Fair Work Act 2009 that has taken effect from 1 July 2009 outlines the system that Australian workplaces need to comply with in order to make working in the country safe and fair. Here are the essential components of the document provided by FWO.

Foreign Workers Rights In Australia
Definition of foreign workers

According to the Fair Works Ombudsman, foreign workers are people with work rights in the country who are neither Australian citizens nor permanent residents. Migrant workers such as seasonal employees, backpackers, and university students with a permanent or temporary long stay visa are considered as foreign workers, as well as those holding a work visa for Australia.

Standard work rights

In Australia, workplace laws apply equally to foreign as well as Australian citizens and permanent residents. Employers using foreign workers need to comply with these basic workplace laws and immigration laws. From 1 January 2010, all employees in Australia receive the following 10 basic minimum entitlements known as the National Employment Standards (NES):

  • Maximum weekly hours of work
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements
  • Parental leave and related entitlements
  • Annual leave
  • Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave
  • Community service leave
  • Long service leave
  • Public holidays
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay
  • Provision of Fair Work Information Statement

The FWO advised all workers to read and understand contract agreements carefully before signing. For foreign workers, the Ombudsman added that they must be aware of the Migration Act condition that their employers have to meet their obligations before hiring foreign workers. “These obligations require your employer to provide equivalent pay to that of any Australian employee who has the same occupation and only require you to perform duties that relate to your approved occupation.” Further, employers must pay all costs related to recruitment, sponsorship, and migration.

Illegal practices are also outlined in the document. Students are reminded that they are entitled to receive salary for all hours worked, including trials, meetings, and trainings. Other unlawful practices include sending an employee from work early, not providing a pay slip, and replacing monetary pay with goods and services.

Enforcement of employment laws

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) enforces all immigration laws, while the Fair Work Ombudsman implements commonwealth workplace laws. These organisations assist employers and employees in complying with labour laws by providing education, information, and advice. They are also the authorities that handle workplace complaints and conduct investigations.

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National Visas offer Personalised Services to help you apply for a visa. National Visas has developed into a world leader in online immigration services Our Migration Agents are registered to provide Australian immigration advice, as required by Australian law.

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