On a Visa and Employed? Know your rights
On a Visa and Employed? Know your rights
Working in a foreign country can be a confusing obstacle course of unscrupulous bosses, unfamiliar law and no fall-back plan.
If you are paying tax and earning your living working for Australian employers, your boss might be relying on the idea that you don’t know exactly what you are entitled to.
You may be here as a skilled worker or as a backpacker looking for entry-level employment, but no matter your knowledge of your particular area of expertise, you are still in a country with unfamiliar laws.
Any visa conditions placed on you aside, when you enter into a contract of employment (written or oral), you are entitled to the same rights and entitlements that any Australian employee is entitled to.
The Unpaid Trial
Many employers will request that a prospective employee undertake an unpaid trial, to demonstrate suitability for a job.
This is perfectly ok, as long as the trial, according to the Fair Work Ombudsman website
“involves no more than a demonstration of the person’s skills, where they are directly relevant to a vacant position….[i]s only for as long as needed to demonstrate the skills required for the job. This will be dependent on the nature and complexity of the work, but could range from an hour to one shift, [and] the person is under direct supervision for the entire trial.’
Demonstrating that you can use a coffee machine and know the difference between a latte and a cappuccino is one thing. Working all day carrying bricks with no monetary compensation is another.
Rates of Pay
It is a good idea to reach an agreement with your employer regarding rates of pay before starting your new job. Also, you may not know that payment for work in Australia is subject to ‘award wages’.
Award wages are the minimum amounts which are set at a federal level, and the minimum amounts that you can be paid for your work; according to the amount of time you are working. It also takes into consideration working overtime, split shifts and the time of day and day of the week that your work takes place.
It is wise to find out how much you are entitled to before you enter negotiations with your prospective employer so that you can be sure that what you are being offered is both fair and legal.
There is information available on the Fair Work Ombudsman website to help you find out which award covers you. Any further information regarding rates of pay that might be specific to you or if you feel you are being treated unfairly can be discussed in a consultation with a Brett Slater Solicitor.
Working conditions – the National Employment Standards (NES)
As a worker, you will most likely be entitled to the NES. These standards are not negotiable by your employer and set guidelines for the following:
- Maximum working hours for full-time employees.
- A right to request flexible working arrangements relating to the care of children.
- Unpaid parental/adoption leave with the right to request further leave.
- Paid annual leave entitlements depending on your employment agreement.
- Personal (“sick leave”)/carer’s/compassionate leave entitlements.
- Jury/emergency leave entitlements.
- Long service leave.
- Public holiday paid leave.
- Termination/redundancy requirements.
- The right for new employees to receive the Fair Work Information Statement.
Safety at work
You are entitled to a workplace that is safe and allows you to do your job safely.
Unlike award wages and the NES, workplace safety in Australia is both federal and state specific. So, if you have any concerns regarding specific safety issues, it is advisable to contact the body responsible for regulation in whichever state you are working within.
No matter where you are working in Australia you are entitled to a physically safe workplace (for example one where you are not going to get electrocuted or hurt by machinery), and you are also entitled to be free of discrimination and bullying by co-workers and/or employers.
You cannot be singled out or discriminated against because of your sex, disability, race, age, sexual preference, criminal record, trade union activity or political opinion.
Information about making a complaint regarding discrimination (which can also include bullying), can be found on the Australian Human Rights Commission website.
The legislation and case law covering the rights and entitlements of all workers in Australia is complex and far-reaching; a combination of Federal and State regulated bodies and organisations.
There is much to be gained by reading information on the Fair Work Ombudsman, Fair Work Commission, Safe Work Australia and other related state-based employment websites. For help on a case by case basis, it is always best to contact an expert to ensure you are being treated correctly and within the law.
A conversation with a Solicitor might seem like an unnecessary escalation, but it might save you many hours of unnecessary headache later. Knowing what you are entitled to-especially in a country that you have never lived or worked in before-will put you on equal footing with your co-workers; who may be more aware of the complexities of Australian employment rights and entitlements.
If you or someone you know wants more information or needs help or advice, please contact Brett Slater Solicitors on 02 9299 5815 or email [email protected]