Minimum Wages

UMSU believes that all students should be paid in accordance with the law, regardless of the nature of their employment.

There are a number of tenancies in Union House, mostly food outlets, which are not operated by UMSU, but rather are commercial leaseholders with the University the landlord. The UMSU Legal Service has, from time to time, been approached by students employed by some of these retail tenancies in Union House as to their rights at work. In some cases, these students have instructed that their employers are paying under award wages and entitlements. In a number of these cases, the students affected have been international students.

While UMSU does not manage the operation or the leasing of tenancies on campus, we’re nevertheless deeply concerned that these unlawful practices are happening so close to home. Ensuring the ongoing welfare of students on campus is one of UMSU’s core missions. It is unacceptable that, at a time when many students are struggling to make money, a business on campus can profit from exploiting vulnerable workers.

In saying all this, we must acknowledge that the underpayment of international students is a systematic social problem. Students who work under the minimum wage often do so because they are unable to find work elsewhere, and need the money to survive. Often, unscrupulous retailers will take advantage of these students, while others turn them away with concerns based on thinly veiled racism – language barriers, visa constraints, etc. The onus is not on the students stuck in these situations to rectify their individual situations. Rather, it is the responsibility of the University and relevant government bodies to ensure that all students who attend university have the necessary safety nets in place to be able to support themselves.

This year, UMSU will be working closely with relevant bodies to ensure that all students are aware of their rights in the workplace. We will also be exploring ways we can lobby for structural change, so that students do not have to jump through these hoops to earn a decent living wage.

Information about minimum wage rates

Australian law sets the minimum wage rates, which establish the minimum amount that people must legally be paid for different kinds of jobs. It’s okay to be paid higher than the minimum rate set, but it’s illegal to pay less.

Just because you are young and eager to work doesn’t mean that an employer can take advantage of you and pay you less than you deserve. Before discussing pay with an employer, you can do some research to find out what you should be paid.

To find out more about minimum wage and pay rates, check out the Fair Work Ombudsman’s page: www.fairwork.gov.au/pay/minimum-wages.

According to them, the introductory hourly pay rate within hospitality is $17.70.

We strongly encourage any student who is concerned about their rates of pay or the lawfulness of their working conditions to contact the UMSU Legal Service {hyperlink}.

For more information, please check: www.youthcentral.vic.gov.au/jobs-careers/starting-out-and-finishing-up/salary-wages.