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After a long stint of closed borders, working holiday visa-holders have started to trickle back into Australia. And while we welcome tourists and backpackers back with open arms, the numbers right now are still significantly lower than prior to the pandemic.

In order to fill some of the void left by backpackers, the government has introduced the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (Palm) scheme to bring migrant workers from Pacific island countries to Australia. Unfortunately, this hasn’t come without its challenges and reports of poor working conditions and treatment have been common.

We want everybody to enjoy their time working in Australia, so understanding your rights is important. This article examines the rights backpackers and migrant workers have when working on Australian soil.

All people working in Australia, including visa holders and migrant workers, are entitled to the same workplace rights.

What do Visa holders and migrant workers rights include?

  • General protections - including protections against discrimination and having the capacity under workplace law to make a complaint or inquiry in relation to your employment.
  • Unfair dismissals - if your employment is terminated and the circumstances appear unfair, unreasonable or harsh, you may have a claim for unfair dismissal.
  • Minimum wages - all employees working in Australia are entitled to a minimum wage. This is the minimum amount an employee can be paid for the work that they're doing and as of July 2022 is $21.38 an hour. 
  • Working conditions - this includes things like a safe work environment, maximum weekly hours of work, overtime pay, and access to different types of leave for permanent employees.
  • Superannuation - all workers in Australia who earn more than $450 per month, including casuals and permanent employees, are entitled to 10.5% superannuation. This must be paid into your nominated fund and it is illegal for employers not to. If you think you have unpaid super, read about how we can help.
  • Payslips - all workers in Australia are entitled to receive a payslip each time they receive pay. It is illegal to not receive a payslip for work you have completed.

 

What if I’m injured at work?

If you’re injured at work, you may be eligible to make a workers’ compensation claim. This applies to all workers and helps provide financial support if you have to take time off work, including to cover medical treatment and lost income. In some cases, you might be entitled to a lump sum.

You always have the right to see a doctor of your choice and do not have to see the doctor your employer recommends. Time limits for work injury claims vary depending on the state you are working in, so it’s important you report your injury to your employer and the workers’ compensation authority that covers you as soon as possible.

You can find out in minutes if you have a work injury claim with our online free claim check.

You also may be able to make a claim for superannuation insurance through your super fund.

Regardless of whether you’re a backpacker on a working holiday visa, a migrant worker, or an Australian citizen working full time in Australia – we all have the same workplace rights and it’s important to seek legal support if you ever feel like your rights are being exploited.

Our work in employment law

Our specialist employment lawyers can provide advice and representation on a wide range of workplace legal issues, including investigations, negotiating the terms of employment contracts and recovering bonus payments. For an initial consultation fee of $690 (incl GST) find out where you stand.