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Free workplace legal advice and ‘Know your rights’ presentation for international students

About this event

Are you an international student doing a part-time/casual job in South Australia? Do you have questions about your work? Questions such as: 

  • Should I be receiving payslips?  
  • What are the legal pay rates?  
  • Are cash-in-hand jobs illegal?  
  • Do I need an ABN?  
  • If I accept a cash-in-hand job, will my visa be cancelled?  
  • What can I do if I am being underpaid or mistreated at work?  
  • What is a trade union and should I become a union member?

Come along and we will unpack some of your questions about workplace rights. It’s okay if you don’t have any prepared questions, just come along and you may learn something you didn’t know before. 

This event will have 2 parts –  

1) Know your rights education session: We will take you through the basics of your rights at work. You will leave this session knowing more about your work rights in Australian workplaces.  We will also tell you where you can go if you have questions or problems in the future.   

2) Free Legal Advice Clinic: The Working Women’s Centre can offer free legal advice to international students, migrants, and refugees about work-related issues. Usually, one would have to go through an online or phone booking system but at our advice clinic you can simply walk up and ask our experienced advisors any questions you may have about your current or past working situations!  

Snacks will be provided!  

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present . Sovereignty was never ceded.

Upcoming outreach clinic 17 September: UniSA Legal Advice Clinic X WWCSA

Appointments will be held at the Legal Advice Clinic – City West Campus on:

  • * Friday, 17 September
This free industrial advice is available for all UniSA students and the general public living in South Australia.

To make an appointment please telephone WWC SA on 8410 6499 or complete the online form at:

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.
UniSA Legal Advice Clinic

Today is the National (un)Equal Pay Day!

It’s Equal Pay Day today!  Can you believe we still need this day? 

Equal Pay Day was established to address the gender pay gap, the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.

According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), in 2021, the national gender pay gap is 14.20%, which means that Australian working women on average are paid $261.50 less than their male counterparts. What a disgrace!

What have we found?  

As a charitable organisation that provides free legal advice, representation and advocacy to working women and vulnerable workers, we continue to witness and address gender economic inequality through our day-to-day work.

We have noticed that women are more likely to be employed in insecure work than men. The Australia Institute agrees with us. This is partly attributed to the higher rate of women working in part-time and casual jobs, especially in female-dominated sectors such as healthcare, social services, and the retail industry, which eventually led to lower pay and worse working conditions.

We have also noticed the connection between gender-based violence and insecure work. We know that gender inequality is at the core of violence against women, and the gender pay gap is the most obvious example of gender inequality.

Rampant wage theft, a form of deliberate underpayment, has also worsened the gender pay gap, and the pay gap between Australian citizens and temporary visa holders such as international students and migrant workers. Female migrant workers are particularly vulnerable. They face intersectional issues of gender discrimination, racism, language barriers and xenophobia. Together with unions and grassroots advocacy groups, the Working Women’s Centre is calling on the criminalisation of wage theft in South Australia.

What can I do?  

Here are 3 actions you can take to help close the gender pay gap on Equal Pay Day.

  1. Sign the petition to demand federal funding to the NT Working Women Centre to prevent the essential service for NT women from closure in October.
  1. Become a monthly donor to the South Australian Working Women’s Centre.

    Regular monthly donors are particularly valuable. Ongoing and regular donations help us to expand and increase our case and advocacy work in addressing gender inequality and preventing workplace sexual harassment. $25 per month, as little as the cost of a cup of coffee each week, can make a huge difference to South Australian working women’s lives. All donations are tax-deductible.

  1. Sign the petition initiated by SA Labour Info Hub to call on the criminalisation of wage theft in SA
Equal Pay Day was established to address the gender pay gap, the difference between women’s and men’s average weekly full-time equivalent earnings, expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. According to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency (WGEA), in 2021, the national gender pay gap is 14.20%, which means that Australian working women on average are paid $261.50 less than their male counterparts.

Have you experienced discrimination at work? [flowchart]

Please note that this is general information & may not be relevant to your particular matter. This flowchart should not be taken as legal advice.

This flowchart provides an overview of where you can find information about your workplace rights regarding Discrimination matters based on sex, disability and race. As well as an overview on the time frame that you have to work within to lodge an application/complaint, and the time frame that the conciliation process can take.

If you are experiencing sexism, sexual harassment, disability discrimination or racial discrimination we encourage you to contact your union if you are a union member. If you are not a union member, please contact us.

Relevant websites:

 

Safe and Compliant Workplaces: education and advice clinic

WHEN

03 Sep 2021
2pm – 5pm

EVENT TYPE

Workshop

WHERE

69 Grote Street, Adelaide SA

Details on how to register here

Accessibility: Please note that this venue is not wheelchair accessible, there are volunteers who can assist with accessing the venue if required, but only upon request.

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.

Seminar for small business

*Note: the time and location of this event has changed since originally published.

The Working Women’s Centre SA is partnering with the Hen House Co-op to run a free seminar for small business on employment rights and obligations. This event will help women who are running their own business feel confident employing others fairly and legally.

The seminar will cover:

  • Payrates, Awards and pay increases
  • Penalty rates
  • Superannuation
  • The difference between a contractor and an employee
  • Keeping records
  • Workplace equity and respect
  • Fair supervision and disciplinary processes
  • Any other questions you have!

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.

Run & fundraise with the WWCSA in the Lumary City-Bay Fun Run

Will you join us on 19th September for the fundraising Lumary City-Bay Fun Run ?

Registrations are open! Join our team & start fundraising for the Working Women’s Centre here:

https://citybay21.grassrootz.com/working-women-s-centre-sa

 

 

lumary city to bay fun run fundraiser in adelaide south australia

Free legal & industrial advice clinic | UniSA Legal Advice Clinic X WWCSA

Do you need free, confidential legal & industrial advice about your rights at work?

Have you experienced:

Wage theft? Do you think you may not be being paid correctly?
Unfair dismissal? Have you been dismissed from a job recently?
Discrimination? Have you been treated badly at work due to race, gender or age?
Sexual harassment?
Bullying?
Sham contracting? Does your employer call you a contractor, however you may be an employee?

UniSA Legal Advice Clinic

Free legal & industrial advice clinic | UniSA Legal Advice Clinic X WWCSA

Do you need free, confidential legal & industrial advice about your rights at work?

Have you experienced:

Wage theft? Do you think you may not be being paid correctly?
Unfair dismissal? Have you been dismissed from a job recently?
Discrimination? Have you been treated badly at work due to race, gender or age?
Sexual harassment?
Bullying?
Sham contracting? Does your employer call you a contractor, however you may be an employee?

UniSA Legal Advice Clinic

SA Weekend: Underpaid workers fighting back in the courtroom

This interview was published by the Advertiser SA Weekend on July 31 2021

Read the full article on the Advertiser SA Weekend here.

The inside story of how thousands of Australians who have been the victim of wage theft are finally fighting back. Plus, the big corporate names dragged into the courtroom.

Xiao An was looking for a job. She had recently graduated from her marketing course at the University of South Australia and the Chinese ­national was keen to stay in Adelaide. Like many international students, Xiao An looked on the Adelaide BBS website. It’s a kind of Chinese-language marketplace where you can find houses to rent, cars to buy and where jobs are advertised.

“When I graduated I wanted to find a job and get some experience,” the now 21-year-old says. “I feel this is suitable for me and I applied.”

The job she found was in advertising and sales for a wine business based in the city. Xiao An, not her real name, was there for two months and was never paid. The ­excuses started early. It was the end of the financial year, she was told. The company was being restructured.

“They even showed me the screenshot of the bank account of the company, saying they did not have enough money to pay so I have to wait,” she says.

“I feel like I am constantly being frauded. The boss kept making unrealistic promises to me that I’ll be promoted, getting a high ­yearly salary.”

All the while, Xiao An was working five days a week, sometimes weekends as well.

“I had to work full-time, and even overtime during weekends in that toxic, competitive environment but nothing was paid. Sometimes after working, I cried all the way to home. It was so stressful,” she says.

The issue of workers being underpaid, or not paid at all, was thrust firmly into the spotlight in February when a video of an assault at the Fun Tea store in Chinatown went viral. The video showed a young worker at Fun Tea being slapped and kicked after complaining she was only being paid $10 an hour, less than half the wage the worker was entitled to. The ­national minimum wage is $20.33 an hour.

A man called Lei Guo has pleaded guilty to the assault and will be sentenced next month. Guo was said to be a friend of then Fun Tea director Jason Duan, who later appeared on a video with a Sydney-based YouTube user and admitted he had only paid the victim $10 an hour.

The assault of the young student caused immediate backlash and brought renewed focus on to a dark part of the national economy – the exploitation of young and vulnerable workers by those who employ them. Often they are international students on visas with no understanding of their rights, with poor English skills and little support.

The federal government’s Fair Work Ombudsman started an investigation into Chinatown’s restaurants and a preliminary report found “very high” non-­compliance levels.

That investigation is ongoing but in April, the Ombudsman Sandra Parker said: “Our intelligence indicates that Adelaide’s Chinatown precinct employs many workers on visas who may also have limited ­English skills, which can lead to vulnerability and exploitation.” It is expected the Ombudsman will file charges year end.

Part of the solution may be for universities to provide more information to its students when they arrive in the country to tell them what their rights are and what support is available to them.

Meng Liu came to Australia in 2018 to study social work at Flinders. She, too, was ripped off by an employer.

“The first month I was here, I realised that everyone around me was doing an underpaid job, like all the international students I knew,” Liu says. “At that stage I didn’t know that was illegal.

 

 

We’ve recovered $1.2 million for workers

The numbers are in, and here at the South Australian Working Women’s Centre SA we have recovered $622k of stolen wages, compensation and penalties for workers in the past financial year.

That means that over the past two years, we’ve won back $1.2 million.  

We are incredibly proud of all the workers that have taken a stand against injustice in the past year. With the support of our small team, they have fought for what they are owed.

Support the work that we do standing up for workers by donating to the Working Women’s Centre.

 

 

POSTPONED EVENT: Safe and Compliant Workplaces: education and advice clinic

The Working Women’s Centre in collaboration with Fair Go SA, will co-host an educational workshop on worker’s rights and the Fair Work Act.

This will be followed by a confidential (one to one) advice clinic for any workers who need free industrial advice about work.

Our workshop will cover topics including:

  • Workplace bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Sham contracting
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Parental Leave
  • Workplace sexual harassment
  • Responding to domestic violence at work
  • Labour Exploitation

At the Confidential Industrial Advice Clinic you can:

  • Speak to an Industrial Officer who has a background in Employment law & qualifications in law
  • Ask questions
  • Get information and personalised advice about your workplace issues.
  • Book a further free appointment with the Working Women’s Centre Industrial Officers for a follow-up & further assistance.

WHEN:

23 Jul 2021
2pm – 5pm

 

EVENT TYPE

Workshop

 

WHERE

69 Grote Street, Adelaide SA

 

translation avaible register for this event via we chat

If you cannot register for this event via the We Chat QR code, please email to register: reception@wwc.org.au

Accessibility: Please note that this venue is not wheelchair accessible, there are volunteers who can assist with accessing the venue if required, but only upon request.

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.

Safe and Compliant Workplaces: education and advice clinic

The Working Women’s Centre in collaboration with Fair Go SA, will co-host an educational workshop on worker’s rights and the Fair Work Act.

This will be followed by a confidential (one to one) advice clinic for any workers who need free industrial advice about work.

Our workshop will cover topics including:

  • Workplace bullying
  • Discrimination
  • Sham contracting
  • Unfair Dismissal
  • Parental Leave
  • Workplace sexual harassment
  • Responding to domestic violence at work
  • Labour Exploitation

At the Confidential Industrial Advice Clinic you can:

  • Speak to an Industrial Officer who has a background in Employment law & qualifications in law
  • Ask questions
  • Get information and personalised advice about your workplace issues.
  • Book a further free appointment with the Working Women’s Centre Industrial Officers for a follow-up & further assistance.

translation avaible register for this event via we chat

If you cannot register for this event via the We Chat QR code, please email to register: meng@wwc.org.au

Accessibility: Please note that this venue is not wheelchair accessible, there are volunteers who can assist with accessing the venue if required, but only upon request.

We acknowledge that this event is on Kaurna land and we pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the land, past and present. Sovereignty was never ceded.

Conciliation Conference Information

This information is intended to assist with preparing and participating in conciliation conferences with the Fair Work Commission, South Australian Employment Tribunal, Equal Opportunity Commission, and the Australian Human Rights Commission.

What is a Conciliation Conference?

  • A confidential meeting in which parties come together to try and resolve a matter with the assistance of an accredited conciliator.
  • The conciliator is independent from the parties to the dispute and is trained and experienced in dispute resolution.
  • A conciliation conference will be held on a specific date, usually via telephone. On this date the conciliator will call both you and your employer.
  • You may choose to be represented by a lawyer, advocate or union official. However, it is not uncommon to be self-represented in conciliation conferences.

Note: There is no requirement to be represented.

 

What is the conciliator’s role?

  • To facilitate communication between two parties and direct discussion around the issues. Conciliators may raise questions, make comments or recommendations to help the parties come to a resolution.
  • Conciliators do not make decisions or decide who “wins” or “loses”. They assist the parties to come to an agreement to resolve the matter.
  • These discussions are undertaken on a “without prejudice” basis, meaning anything said in the conference cannot be used later if the matter proceeds to a Hearing.

Note: You can have a support person with you during the conciliation conference. This could be a friend or family member. A support person may take notes on your behalf or help you if you feel overwhelmed.

 

How to prepare for a conciliation conference?

  • Gather all relevant documents and forms in relation to your claim.
  • Prepare an opening statement to read out at the beginning of the conciliation conference. This is your opportunity to tell your story and explain why you say the employer has broken the law.
  • You will be asked what you are seeking to resolve the matter. You should prepare your ideal proposal for settlement
  • Ensure you have considered what your first offer will be e.g. an amount of compensation, a statement of service, or conversion of your termination to resignation. Start with your best-case scenario, so you can compromise if necessary.

Opening Statements: This is a summary of your application. The purpose of this statement is to put forward your case in a concise way at the beginning of the conference.

 

What happens during a conciliation conference?

  • The first phase on a conciliation conference is called a “joint session”. A joint session is where all the parties are on the same conference call.
  • The conciliator will usually commence the conference by introducing the parties and explaining the how the conference will proceed. They will usually advise of the ground rules or guidelines which always involves confidentiality and respectful behaviours.
  • Each side is given an opportunity to present an opening statement or comments. This outlines key facts which have led to the conciliation.
  • Each side then has an opportunity to identify and explain key issues in their submissions.
  • Following this, there may be some general discussion and a chance to clarify issues raised and ask questions about what has been said. The Conciliator may also ask questions of the parties.
  • Each party will have a chance to say their side of the story.
  • The conciliator will usually close the joint session and then speak with each side privately, in separate sessions, and ask for suggestions on how they wish to resolve/settle the matter.
  • The offer will then be taken to the other party. The conciliator facilitates a negotiation and may go back and forth between the parties exchanging offers several times.

Another example of a guideline during a conciliation is that only one person may talk at a time. A conciliator will ensure the conversation remains polite and on topic.

 

What next?

  • If the parties come to an agreement the conciliator will help draft the “Terms of Settlement” document for both parties to sign. Terms of Settlement are documents that outline what the parties have agreed on and may include a clause that requires the terms to be kept confidential.
  • If an agreement is made, it is binding, and the complaint will be closed. If no agreement is reached, the next stage is a Hearing. A Hearing, or Trial, is a more formal process which requires giving evidence and submissions, and a binding Decision is made by a Member of the relevant Tribunal.

Note: Parties are under no obligation to reach a settlement.

How to spot a Sham Contract in a Job Advertisement.

Please note that this is general information & may not be relevant to your particular matter. This toolkit should not be taken as legal advice.

When applying for a new job it is important to understand exactly what type of employment relationship you may be entering. There can be serious legal consequences if the employment relationship is incorrectly labelled. For example, some job advertisements might state the position available is for an independent contractor when the true nature of the position is really an employee. Independent contractors and employees have different obligations and rights in relation to the work they perform. It is important to know the difference between the two so you can ensure you are receiving all your legal entitlements and that you are complying with any legal obligations.

 

 

What’s the difference between an independent contractor and an employee?

There are a number of factors that assist in determining the difference between an employee and an independent contractor. In general:

Independent Contractors work for themselves and are their own boss. They set their own fee for the work that they perform and have control of when and how they work. They usually create and supply invoices to receive payment for their work based on the completion of a job. Independent contractors arrange and pay their own taxation and are required to have an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Employees work for someone else and are not running their own business. The employer controls how, where, and when the employee does their work. Employees are often paid by the hour and receive a wage or salary. Employees are not required to pay their own taxation and their employer will deduct taxation and pay it to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). Employees are entitled to certain types of leave (i.e. long service and parental leave) and superannuation.

 

Sometimes the true nature of the relationship will be obvious but sometimes a more fulsome analysis of all the circumstances of the working relationship is required.

It is important to note that no single indicator can determine if a person is a contractor or an employee. Each assessment is based on the individual circumstances of the work arrangement in place. Courts always look at the totality of the relationship between the parties when determining the status of a person’s working relationship.

What is sham contracting?

Sham contracting is where a person working as an employee is told they are an independent contractor when they are not. They may be treated like an independent contractor in some ways, for example they may be required to have an ABN, yet have no control over when and how they do their work or how much they get paid.

It is illegal for employers to misrepresent an employee as an independent contractor. Sham contracting is against the law and there are protections for workers who find themselves in sham arrangements.

For example, it is unlawful for an employer to:

  • claim an employee is an independent contractor;
  • say something false to convince an employee to become an independent contractor;
  • dismiss or threaten to dismiss an employee if they don’t become an independent contractor; or
  • dismiss an employee and hire them as an independent contractor to do the same work.

Sham contracting is sometimes done on purpose or an employer may have acted carelessly and not fully understood their obligations at law. Sham arrangements are sometimes set up by employers who are trying to avoid responsibility for paying legal entitlements due to employees such as annual leave or superannuation.

 

How can you spot a sham contract in a job advertisement?

Have a look at the advertisement for a job below. It is not uncommon to find advertisements for jobs online that have some of these features. The advertisement below is problematic because it has features of a sham contracting arrangement.
image is of a fake job ad, posted by a man in a suit named Mr Boss man, the ad says "Howdy! I am looking for a reliable person, with attention to detail. I need someone who is a quick learner and can follow instructions. You must have an ABN, a full driving license & your own car for transport. Opportunity to work 3-4 days or 7 days a week, doing around 5 -7 hours a day, early starts everyday. This position would suit someone with a background working as a: florist, cleaner, baker, hairdresser, pastry chef or website designer. "
  1. The requirement to “follow instructions” and start early points to an employment relationship. A true independent contractor running their own business would not be expected to follow instructions and should be able to negotiate when the work commences.
  2. The requirement to have an ABN does not necessarily point to an independent contractor. Some employers will say you need an ABN but all the other elements of employment are present
  3. The requirement to work a certain number of days per week and certain number of hours per day points towards an employment relationship. It demonstrates the worker does not have control over when the hours are worked.
  4. Stating that the position would suit someone with a background of “baker, florist, pastry chef etc” indicates the position does not require any particular expertise. This points towards an employment relationship because someone truly running their own business would likely specialise in a particular field.

 

It is unlawful for an employer to pretend that they are offering a person a job as an independent contractor when the position actually involves entering into an employment contract. Before accepting a position like this, you should ask more questions about the true nature of the position and get some advice.

 

Case Studies

Have a read through these case studies for further guidance on how to spot a sham contracting arrangement:

 

CASE STUDY 1:

Stevie was offered a job in a beauty salon as a Beauty Therapist. Stevie is qualified to provide a full range of beauty treatments. Stevie was told she needed an ABN and would need to arrange to pay her own tax. Stevie was told she would be paid $25 per hour and would be given four shifts per week. Her shift times were in line with the salon’s opening hours which were 9am to 5:30pm. She was given a uniform with the Beauty Salon’s logo which she was required to wear. Stevie was told to book and perform nail treatments only. The beauty salon owner told her she would need to bring in her own customers and generate patronage.

Employee or independent contractor?

Stevie is an employee. She has no control over where, when and how she worked. Even though she was told she needed an ABN and was required to pay her own tax, she was not running her own business and had no control over her work. Stevie may be entitled to a higher rate or pay and superannuation.

 

CASE STUDY 2:

Asma is an Electrician and performs work on a residential building site for a large building company called BuildPro. BuildPro engages Asma to wire the new house they have built. Asma gives Buildpro a quote for the job and says she will invoice BuildPro when the work is complete. BuildPro asks Asma to finish the job in three months. The job is too big for Asma to complete alone so she engages another worker to do the job with her. Asma has an ABN and has undertaken to work six days per week from 7am to 3pm to get the job finished.

Employee or independent contractor?

Asma is an independent contractor. She determined her fee for the work and invoiced BuildPro accordingly. Although BuildPro requested the work be done within three months, Asma was able to determine her hours of work and was able to employ someone else to delegate work to. Asma is running her own business and had control over many aspects of the job which all indicate she was an independent contractor.

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