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Understanding the increase to minimum wage: A guide for international students

Here we look into Australia’s minimum wage, how it's determined and how often it changes.

Dark haired man sitting on green couch writing out his finances
Dark haired man sitting on green couch writing out his finances

Working part time while you study is a great way to support yourself and get experience in the job market before you graduate and begin your career.  

But have you ever wondered how much you should be earning for your time and effort? Or what to do if you suspect your employer isn't meeting the minimum wage requirements? 

In this article, we’ll look into Australia’s minimum wage, how it's determined and how often it changes. Plus, we'll discuss the steps you can take if you believe you're being underpaid. Let's get started! 

What is Australia's minimum wage? 

The minimum wage in Australia was recently raised to $23.23 per hour, or $882.80 per week for full-time workers. This means employers must pay their employees at least this amount for each hour worked.  

It is important to note that this rate may vary depending on factors such as age, experience and industry.  

Additionally, many industries in Australia, including hospitality, healthcare and retail are covered by awards. This refers to a set of rules that employers must follow regarding minimum wages, working hours and leave entitlements. 

If you are working in an industry covered by an award, you may have a different minimum wage, and this could be more or less than the national minimum wage. Do some research into your award and find out how much you should be earning. 

One thing to remember is that all of these rules apply to international students, too. 

How often does the minimum wage change? 

The minimum wage in Australia is reviewed annually by the Fair Work Commission (FWC). The FWC considers various factors such as the state of the economy, inflation rates and the needs of low-paid workers when considering any changes to the minimum wage. 

Generally, the FWC announces changes to the minimum wage in June each year, with the new rates coming into effect on July 1. 

What do I do if my job is not paying me the minimum wage? 

If you suspect that your employer isn’t paying you the minimum wage, it might be time to take action.  

Remember that international students have the same rights as any worker in Australia.  

Here are some steps you can follow. 

Collect evidence 

Keep a record of your work hours, payslips and any other relevant documentation that can support your claim. This evidence is important if you need to prove that your employer is not paying you the minimum wage. 

Know your rights 

Familiarise yourself with the minimum wage regulations and ensure you understand your entitlements as an employee in Australia.  

The Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) website is a valuable resource for obtaining information about your rights and obligations as a worker. 

Contact the Fair Work Ombudsman 

If you believe your employer is not complying with minimum wage laws, you can lodge a complaint with the FWO. The FWO can provide guidance, investigate your claim and take appropriate action to resolve the issue. 

Seek legal advice 

In complex cases or if your attempts to resolve the matter through the FWO are unsuccessful, you may need to consider seeking legal advice. Employment lawyers who specialise in workplace rights can provide guidance and represent your interests if the matter escalates. 

Remember, you deserve fair pay for your hard work! By understanding the minimum wage and how often it changes, you can protect your rights as an employee. 

And if you ever find yourself questioning whether you're being paid what you're owed, don't hesitate to take action. You can help ensure fair treatment in the workplace and contribute to a positive working environment. 

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