Employing International Students in Australia

Employing international students living in Australia on a student visa enables international students to gain valuable work experience and contribute to Australia’s workforce needs. It also enables employers to deepen their talent pool and enhance cultural diversity in the workplace.

Work rights for international students in Austalia

When employing international students, employers must abide by Australian workplace laws. Overseas workers including international students have the same workplace rights as all Australian workers under Australian workplace laws.

Employers of international students must provide:

  • At least minimum wage
  • Payslips, superannuation and tax documentation
  • A safe workplace
  • Legal pay rates, leave conditions (if applicable), shift arrangements and dismissal processes which Australian employees are entitled to.

Working hours for international students in Australia

International students studying in Australia are able to work up to 48 hours per fortnight.

The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • During holiday breaks when unlimited hours are allowed.
  • PhD and Master’s by Research students, who can work unlimited hours.

Why is there a cap on how many hours an international student can work?

The cap on working hours ensures that international students are able to focus on obtaining a high-quality Australian education and qualification. There are no work restrictions when the student’s course or training is not in session, e.g., school holiday breaks.

If a student visa is granted offshore, they are unable to work prior to their course commencing. If a student held a visa prior to their student visa that permitted them to work while applying for the student visa, then they are exempt from this condition.

How are the 48 hours a fortnight calculated?

It can be tricky to calculate 48 hours over a fortnight. As a general guide, 48 hours a fortnight is equivalent to approximately three days a week. The fortnight is a 14-day period commencing on a Monday. There are no restrictions on how the 48 hours is split over the fortnight, but students need to be mindful that they don’t exceed the 48 hours in a consecutive two-week period. See the example below.

In this example, the student’s work hours are split as follows:

  • Week 1: 15 hours work
  • Week 2: 30 hours work
  • Week 3: 30 hours work
  • Week 4: 10 hours work.

Over weeks one and two, the student works within the 48-hour limit, however when weeks two and three are combined, the work limit is exceeded. Students need to ensure that the hours worked don’t exceed the limit in any fortnight within a month unless an exemption applies otherwise, they will be in breach of their visa conditions, making their visa liable for cancellation.

Minimum entitlements for international student employees

All employees in Australia- whether they are citizens or not – fall under the national workplace relations system (AKA the Fair Work system) which sets the rights and obligations of employers and employees in the workplace. Under the national workplace relations system, all employees must receive basic minimum entitlements known as the National Employment Standards (NES), with the only exception being that casual employees only receive some NES entitlements.

The NES Include:

The NES for Casual Workers

Other important Information for international students

It’s important that students understand their work rights. Their work rights may be impacted by the course level and the visa held when applying for a student visa.

Students must also ensure that they are prioritising their education.

Students must ensure that:

  • They maintain their course enrolment
  • They have satisfactory course attendance
  • They make satisfactory course progress

Student visa holders may be in breach of their student visa conditions if they:

  • Cancel their course enrolment
  • Stop attending classes
  • Fail to meet satisfactory course progress

The Australian Government recently announced the long-awaited Migration Strategy. As part of the strategy, the Government will crackdown on unscrupulous education providers to not only improve the quality of international education but also reduce exploitation of international students.

To learn more about employing international students or working while on a Student Visa, contact the experienced team of registered migration agents at Visa Solutions Australia. Book a consultation.

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