According to the National Employment Standards (NES), full-time workers in Australian are supposed to work a maximum of 38 hours per week, although they may be asked to work a reasonable number of hours above this. Typical office hours are Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm, but most organisations take a pragmatic approach to working hours when they can and will try to accommodate the needs of their employees.
Holiday entitlement is also defined by the NES. Most full-time workers are entitled to a minimum of 4 weeks of paid annual leave, and shift workers may receive an additional week. Sick leave, community service leave and long service leave are also available to many employees in Australia, however casual workers and those outside the national workplace scheme are not covered by all of these regulations. More information is available through the Fair Work Ombudsman website.
Australia has seven fixed national public holidays each year. The government of each state also has the power to declare further holiday dates, some of which are common to several states and some that are unique. A full list of public holidays by state is available on the australia.gov.au website.
National public holiday dates
New Year's Day - Thursday 1 January
Australia Day - Monday 26 January
Good Friday - 14 April
Easter Monday - 17 April
Anzac Day - 25 April
Christmas Day - 25 December
Boxing Day - 26 December
Visas and eligibility to work
Australia is a very popular destination for working tourists and also incentivises the long-term immigration of workers whose professions are on the Skilled Occupation List, a list of trades considered to have a skill shortage in Australia. However, people of most nationalities need a visa to visit, live or work in the country. Australia has a large number of different types of visa, so visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection website to find out which is appropriate for you.
The Australian tax year runs from July to June. To work in Australia it is best to apply for a Tax File Number. Although not compulsory, this unique number will enable you to correctly pay tax and receive any benefits you may be entitled to. Income tax is usually collected through a Pay As You Go (PAYG) system which deducts your contribution directly from your wages. Taxation levels depend on your earnings and residency status.
The superannuation system, often simply referred to as ‘super’, is the primary form of retirement pension provision for workers in Australia. Most workers over the age of 18 who receive a monthly wage of over A$450 are entitled to compulsory super contributions from their employer. These contributions must be at least 9.25% of your earnings, and can be topped up by voluntary contributions. Some workers are also eligible for government contributions, while people on a low income may be able to claim the means-tested Age Pension when they retire.
Benefits in Australia are administered by the Department of Human Services. Foreign nationals may be entitled to some benefits, depending on their work, visa type and residency status.
Through the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Australian government has pledged to:
- Eliminate discrimination against people with disabilities
- Promote acceptance of the principle that people with disabilities have the same rights as all members of the community
- Ensure as far as practicable that people with disabilities have the same rights to equality before the law as other people in the community
These commitments may include compelling employers to make reasonable adjustments in the workplace to meet the specific needs of disabled workers. For more information on disability rights in Australia, visit the Australian Human Rights Commission website.