Identifying workplace issues

As an international student working in Australia, you have the same rights and protections as any Australian. Here are some potential workplace issues to be aware of.

Potential workplace issues

You get paid in food and/or housing

  • It is illegal for employers to offer food or housing in place of money. Free food is fine but only if it is in addition to your pay.
  • Do not accept other forms of payment. Tell your employer you must be paid money for your work.

You are asked to give back some of your pay

  • If an employer pays you the correct, legal amount and then asks you to give some of your pay back in cash, this is a "cashback scheme". This is not allowed. Do not give back money in a cashback scheme. If you have paid back money like this you are entitled to get the money back.
  • Sometimes you may accidentally break something at work, customers may leave without paying, or the cash registers are short. Employers are not allowed to take money out of your pay to cover this.
  • Employers are not allowed to take money for breakages or theft.

You do not get your payslips

  • Your payslip is a record of the hours you work and how much you get paid.
  • By law, you must always receive a payslip (hard copy or electronic) within one working day of getting paid.

You are asked to apply for an ABN

  • An ABN is an Australian Business Number. Generally, you need this if you are working for yourself.
  • Always check if you need an ABN. For jobs where you report to a boss or manager, you need a Tax File Number instead.

Raising issues with your manager

If you see any of these warning signs, try talking to your manager first. Make sure you do your research and have the facts ready to present to them. 

This useful resource can help you prepare for difficult conversations in the workplace.

Other useful resources

If you are unable to resolve the issue with your manager, contact the Fair Work Ombudsman for help. There is free advice in multiple languages for anyone working in Australia. 

Or you can watch this helpful series on YouTube for young workers.