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You have rights as an international student in the workplace. These rights must be safeguarded. Here are several red flags to look out for.


You are compensated with meals and lodging.


It is against the law for companies to give food or shelter as a substitute for money. It's acceptable to have free food, but only if it comes on top of your regular wage.


Other types of payment are not accepted. Inform your employer that you require payment of the agreed-upon amount.


You've been requested to return a portion of your wages.


A "cashback plan" occurs when an employer gives you the exact, legal amount and then asks you to return portion of your income in cash. This is not permitted.


Money is deducted from your salary.


It's possible that you'll break something at work, that customers will leave without paying, or that the cash registers will be short. Employers are not allowed to deduct money from your wages to cover this.


Allowing employers to accept money for breakages or theft is not a good idea. Employers can only deduct money from your salary if you agree, if the arrangement is in writing, and if you profit from it.


In a cashback system, do not return money. If you've paid money back in this way, it's deemed a deduction, and you're entitled to a refund.


You do not receive your pay stubs.


This implies you don't keep track of how many hours you work or how much you're paid.

Make sure you obtain a payslip (hard copy or electronic) within one working day of receiving your paycheck.


You are need to obtain an ABN.


An ABN (Australian Business Number) is a unique identifier for a company in Australia. If you work for yourself, you will most likely require this.


Always double-check whether or not you require an ABN. Instead, you'll need a TFN - a Tax File Number – for positions where you report to a boss or manager.


If you notice any of these red flags, speak with your manager or seek assistance from the Fair Work Ombudsman. Anyone working in Australia may get free assistance in a variety of languages. Call 13 13 94 or visit for more information.

Useful resources


The 'Are your work rights safe - warning signs' poster, leaflet, or diary insert may be downloaded and printed. A3 (PDF 2.3MB), A4 (PDF 3MB), and A5 (PDF 1.5MB) sizes are available.


Our resource portal has translations of the 'Are your work rights safe - warning indicators' posters (as well as video case studies).

Assistance in the workplace from the states and territories


If you're facing problems at work and aren't sure where to turn for support, the state or territory leaflet below outlines the options available.


Starters for a discussion


It might be difficult to have a talk with your boss about your working rights, but it doesn't have to be. This brief animation and poster might assist you in preparing for challenging talks.


For further information, see the conversation starters brochure (PDF 520.3KB).

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