Top tips for starting work in Australia

If you're an international student entering the workplace, these tips will help make sure you are being treated fairly.

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9 November 2022

A smiling female international student taking a customer's order in a cafe

When you start a new job, it’s really important to know your work rights (you have lots!) and to know what’s ok for employers to ask of you and pay you. These tips will help make sure you are being treated fairly.

Fact #1 

Minimum lawful pay rates are mandatory in Australia.  

In many jobs, penalty rates must be paid for evening, weekend, public holiday and overtime work. Calculate minimum rates using the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) Pay Calculator. If you have already agreed to a lower wage rate, you have not broken the law and the FWO can help you.

Paying low, ‘flat rates’ for work (regardless of the actual hours worked) is NOT OK, even if the worker agrees. You must be paid for actual hours worked and any ‘overtime’.  

Fact #2 

Unpaid work trials are only OK for as long as needed to demonstrate the skills required for the job.  

Depending on the nature of the work, unpaid work trials could range from an hour to one shift. Internships or unpaid work placements can be lawful when they are part of an approved job training or work experience program. It’s also ok if they are part of a formal vocational education and training placement and the work is done in accordance with the relevant study program.  

Read more on the FWO's Unpaid work page. 

Fact #3 

Employees need to be paid for time spent opening and closing a store. 

Employees must be paid for all hours they work to open or close a store. For example, if an employee is required to be at work at 7.45am and this includes time spent to prepare for an 8am store opening, they need to be paid from 7.45am. 

Helpful resources  

Watch this Fair Work Ombudsman's short video for more tips or visit the FWO's dedicated young workers page. 

The FWO also regularly hosts free webinars for employers and employees on different topics. To find out about free upcoming webinars, please visit