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Workplace rights for all visa holders

Will workplace culture differ a lot from what you are used to and will your rights, as an employee, be protected or will you fall victim to exploitation as a non-citizen?

Workplace Rights For All Visa Holders

No need to worry! Australia might be a ‘nanny state’ but in this case it certainly counts in your favour as the workplace rights of both citizens and migrants (or expats) are well protected by Australia law. Everyone working in Australia, including both sponsored and non-sponsored visa holders, have rights and protections at work. These cannot be taken away by contracts or agreements.

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One of these rights includes receiving fair payment for the services you render your employer. Pay rates and workplace conditions are set by Australian law.

Your payment should also correlate with the payments you receive and using the handy Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT) provided by the Australian Department of labour provides information on pay rates, shift calculations, leave arrangements and notice and redundancy entitlements.

Further protection is provided in the form of the Fair Work Ombudsman. The Ombudsman is tasked to provide employees with further information and advice about their workplace rights and obligations.

As is the case in South Africa, your rights and protections includes workplace health and safety matters. Your employer should provide you with a clean and safe working environment.

Your visa is safe and cannot be cancelled by your employer. Visas can only be granted or recalled by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Employer obligations for subclass 457 visa holders

If you are a sponsored visa holder on a Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (subclass 457) visa, your employer has obligations under migration law, in addition to the protections all workers have under workplace law. Your sponsor must:

• provide you with equivalent terms and conditions of employment to those provided or would be provided to an Australian performing equivalent work in the same location
• ensure you work only in the occupation, program or activity for which you were nominated
• not recover, transfer or charge certain costs to you or another person (for example, recruitment costs, sponsorship/nomination fees, migration agent costs)
• if requested in writing, pay reasonable and necessary travel costs to allow you and your family members to leave Australia;
• tell the Department in writing when certain events occur (for example, changes to your sponsor’s address/contact details, if your employment with the sponsor ends, if your duties change)
• cooperate with inspectors from the Department or the Fair Work Ombudsman who are investigating whether your sponsor has complied with sponsorship obligations;
• keep records that show they are complying with their sponsorship obligations and provide those records and information to the Department if requested.

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With all this in place you can rest assured that you have one thing less to be concerned about when arriving in your new Australian workplace!

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