" Workplace – Circle Green Community Legal

Do Australian laws apply to me?

Visa workers include all people who are working in Australia and hold a visa.


If you work in Western Australia, you are likely an employee or a contractor.

Most workers will be employees and your employer should tell you at the beginning of employment.

For more information, you can also see our publication Q&A: Contractor or employee for WA workers.

All employees have workplace rights, even if you are:

• working while holding a visa; or
• have only worked for a short time (even one day of work is long enough to be protected in most situations).

Workplace laws can help to make your job safe, happy, and fair.

You may not be covered by this information if you:

• own your own business;

• are an independent contractor; or
• work for the gig economy (e.g you work as an Uber/DiDi/Ola driver).

To find out whether you are an employee or not you can ask us for free legal advice https://circlegreen.org.au/get-help/.

What workplace laws apply to me?

If you are an employee in Western Australia, there are two different groups of laws that could apply to you. These groups are known as “systems”. You could be in the:

You can’t be in both systems. It’s important to know which system you are in because different laws will apply. You can also watch a video on the different systems on the Wageline website.

If you are having trouble figuring out if you are an employee, or which system you are in, you can contact us to make a request for legal advice here  https://circlegreen.org.au/get-help/.

We have more information about these systems here Q&A: State or national for WA employees  

If you aren’t sure, you can still read the information below, as most of it applies in both systems. However, you need to know which system you are in if you want to make a legal claim.

What type of worker am I?


My employer says I am a contractor and I need an ABN – what does this mean?

Generally, workers in Australia may be contractors or employees.

Generally, the protections outlined in this resource are only available to employees. Contractors have less rights and protections.

Contractors are generally running their own small business and have a lot of control over how they work. They normally decide when to do their work and how to do their work, and they can do work for many different people. Contractors are normally paid when they finish a job. An employee is more likely to work for one person or business, to have set hours, to be supervised in their job and to be paid by the hour.


It’s not against the law to have an ABN and work as a contractor.

However, if you believe you are an employee and your employer is saying you are a contractor, this may be “sham contracting”. An employer may do this to avoid paying you the minimum wage, or to avoid other laws that apply to employees.

Generally, this is unlawful and you may be able to make a claim.

You can find further information in our publication Q&A: Contractor or employee for WA workers.

I’ve been told I’m a casual employee – what does this mean?

How can you find out?

Your payslip or employment contract should show you if you are a casual employee:

  • if you are permanent or on a task/ time period contract, it should show the amount of annual leave and personal leave that you have; and
  • if you are a casual it should show the amount of casual loading you are receiving.

What is the difference between causal and permanent work?

Most employees in Australia will be either “permanent”, “casual” or have a fixed term contract.


Do I get holiday pay and sick pay?


Casual employees are employees that have no commitment to ongoing work or agreed pattern of work. Casual employees don’t receive holiday or sick pay but receive extra pay. Generally causal employees are paid per hour and can refuse shifts.


Casual employees don’t get holiday pay or sick pay, and get a “casual loading” instead. You can see more information on casual employees in the section below. You can also you can see our publication Q&A: Employee types for WA employees.

If you are not a casual employee, you are likely to be a permanent employee or fixed term employee which means you should get some paid holidays and paid sick leave.

In Australia, holiday pay is called “annual leave” and sick pay is called “personal leave”.

Being a visa holder does not stop you from getting holiday pay (annual leave) and sick pay ( personal leave). If you are not a casual employee and you are working full time (38 hours a week or more) then you should get:

  • at least 4 weeks of paid holidays per year; and
  • 10 days per year of sick pay.


Personal leave (or sick pay) can be used when you are unwell and can’t go to work. It can also be used if you need to take care of a family or household member. Your employer is allowed to ask you to provide reasonable evidence, including a doctor’s note.


For more information on these entitlements, see our Q&A: Minimum conditions of employment for WA employees.

I have lost my job or I am scared that I will lose my job

My employer is taking away my freedom or threatening to take away my visa

I have an issue with my pay or conditions

I am not being treated respectfully or I feel unsafe at work

Further information and help

Circle Green Community Legal

WA employees can request free and confidential legal help with employment and workplace discrimination issues from Circle Green Community Legal.

  • Complete an online request on our Get Help page.
  • Call us on 08 6148 3636 (Please note that we do not provide on demand legal advice)


For further information on our Workplace law services, please visit circlegreen.org.au/workplace

Other organisations

Anti Slavery Australia

Red Cross Support for Trafficked People Program

Fair Work Commission

Western Australian Industrial Relations Commission


WorkCover WA

Australian Human Rights Commission

Equal Opportunity Commission