Anyone working in Australia regardless of their citizenship or visa status has the same rights as Australian citizens. You are protected against all forms of discrimination, exploitation and unfair treatment at work, and your employer is not in the position to deprive you of your skilled worker visa. Here is everything you need to know about your workplace rights and protections.
Your Basic Workplace Rights and Protections
As a holder of a 491 visa, you have the same workplace rights and protections anyone holding Australian citizenship does. The Fair Work Ombudsman is there to protect and enforce the rights of immigrant workers. If you experience work exploitation or if any of your basic rights are breached, you can appeal to FWO and seek help without the fear of visa cancellation. According to Australian laws, as a fulltime or part-time employee you are entitled to:
- Safe work environment
- Protective equipment if necessary
- Fair pay (at least minimum wages)
- Maximum number of working hours
- Superannuation contributions
- Annual leave
- Parental leave
- Personal/carer’s leave or compassionate leave
- Community service leave
- Long service leave
- Public holidays
- Notice of termination
- Provision of a fair work information statement
You Are Protected Against Work Exploitation and Unlawful Workplace Discrimination
If you suspect your employer has certain discriminatory or exploitative practices, you should get in touch with the Fair Work Ombudsman whose role is to protect your workplace rights. Some of the most common workplace exploitation issues skilled migration visa holders have been reporting include:
- Low wages
- Visa cancellation threats
- Deductions from wages
- Failing to provide paid leave or superannuation.
- Withholding passports of visa holders
- Failing to respect visa restrictions regarding work
- Requirements to pay deposits for work placements
- Tax avoidance & cash payments
- Unpaid training
Migrant workers should also be protected from all forms of discrimination. You should reach out to the Fair Work Ombudsman if you have experienced an adverse reaction from your employer because of your age, race, colour, religion, sex, marital status or sexual orientation, disability, family responsibilities, political opinions, nationality or social origin. You should know that it is illegal for employers to dismiss or refuse to employ people because of the discrimination bias.
Can Your Employer Cancel Your Skilled Worker Visa?
Your employer is not entitled to cancel your visa under any circumstances. Even if you’ve failed to meet your obligations or breached conditions for your visa, the company you are working for can’t deprive you of your visa and your right to live and work in Australia. Only the Department of Foreign Affairs can grant or cancel your visa. This means employers cannot threaten to cancel your visa. If this happens, you should know that such behaviour is considered work exploitation and that you can appeal to the Fair Work Ombudsman.
What Else You Need to Know as a Holder of a Skilled Migration Visa?
As a migrant worker in Australia, you should bear in mind that your rights are guaranteed, but you need to know your responsibilities as well as entitlements. Make sure to understand your visa limitations and the conditions of your employment. You should also know how you can contribute to a safer environment at work and what you need to do to carry out your tasks without harming others. Inform yourself about your rights and entitlements so that you can demand them from your employer or seek help if you notice that your employer does not act in accordance with the law.