Many postgrads combine study with paid work. It’s important to know your rights and responsibilities at work, so that if you ever run into trouble, you will be able to respond.
The national minimum wage for workers aged 21 and over is currently $18.93 per hour (before tax). If you are a casual employee, you are also entitled to 25% casual loading. This amount also depends on the industry in which you’re working. Check the Fairwork Pay Calculator to find out what you should be paid: fairwork.gov.au/pay/minimum-wages
If you aren’t receiving fair wages, you have the right to make a complaint to the Fair Work Ombudsman. You can also contact your union – see below for more information. The SUPRA legal service can also assist you if you have been unpaid or underpaid at work.
For more information on your workplace rights: fairwork.gov.au
Information for international students is available at: fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/templates-and-guides/fact-sheets/rights-and-obligations/international-students
Superannuation (or “super”) is a compulsory retirement saving scheme. Generally, if you earn $450 or more (before tax) in a calendar month, your employer is legally required to deposit superannuation contributions of 9.5% of your ordinary wages into a super fund on your behalf. More information on choosing a super fund and entitlements can be found at the Australian Tax Office: ato.gov.au
International students on temporary visas may be able to withdraw their superannuation once they leave Australia permanently. If you’re working while studying in Australia, check whether you will be able to claim your super after you leave the country. If you can, you should get all your original documentation copied and certified before you leave Australia by making a free appointment with the SUPRA legal service or by coming to the Legal Service drop in on Thursdays, 1pm to 3pm. After you’ve permanently departed Australia and your visa is inactive, you may lodge an application for a Departing Australia Superannuation Payment (DASP) at: ato.gov.au/Forms/Applying-for-a-Departing-Australia-super-payment/
Under the Federal Work Health & Safety Act, you have a right to work in a safe environment. If you’re injured at work, you’re entitled to receive support from your employer, which may include Workers’ Compensation and arrangements to allow you to return to work. If you have concerns about your workplace safety you may contact WorkCover NSW on 13 10 50. You can also contact SUPRA for advice.
As an employee, you must obey any lawful and reasonable instructions given by your employer and work with them to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.
For more information about your employee responsibilities visit the SafeWork NSW website: safework.nsw.gov.au/law-and-policy/worker-and-visitor-obligations/worker-obligations
Everyone has a legal right to join a union, including international students. Unions can help make sure that your rights at work are respected, and can give you advice and representation if you have issues with your employer.
For more information on what a union is and how to find your union, visit the Unions NSW website: unionsnsw.org.au
If you work for services like Deliveroo, Uber, Uber Eats, or similar delivery services, you are considered to be an independent contractor. This means you are considered to be your own employer and you need to apply for an Australian Business Number (ABN) with the Australian Tax Office. Any payments you receive while working with these companies are considered income and must be declared on your tax return. Applying for an ABN is free and can be done at: abr.gov.au
If you are an Uber driver, you also need to also register for Goods and Services Tax (GST). If you only deliver food and earn less than $75,000 you do not have to register for GST (but you must have an ABN).
Postgraduate students can access SUPRA’s free Tax Help for assistance and advice on how to lodge a tax return. The service is provided by trained volunteers from July to October. Unfortunately, Tax Help can’t assist independent contractors or self-employed workers with their taxes. Contact SUPRA for more information.
If you worked in Australia and had income tax deducted from your wages, make sure you apply for an income tax refund before you leave Australia by lodging a tax return. You can also apply for a refund if you’ve had tax withheld on bank account interest because you didn’t supply your bank with your Tax File Number.
Australian Tax Office (ATO): ato.gov.au
Superannuation Infoline: 13 10 20 (within Australia)
The SUPRA Legal Service can provide you with free legal advice and assistance with work related matters.
This information is current as at December 2018 and is intended as a guide to the law as it applies to people who live in or are affected by the law as it applies in NSW. It does not constitute legal advice.