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Working Conditions in Melbourne

Are you interested in working in Melbourne as an expat? Australia’s second-largest city boasts numerous job opportunities, for example in growth fields such as IT or the life sciences. To find out about the urban economy, job hunting, working conditions, and office culture, read our InterNations guide to working in Melbourne.
In general, Australian office culture emphasizes a healthy work-life balance!
Congratulations on getting a new job in Melbourne! Before you sign an employment contract or start at your new workplace, we recommend doing a little research about working conditions and business etiquette in Australia.

Your Employment Contract

First of all, your employment contract should include at least all the following specifications:

  • full name and contact details of your new employer
  • job title and full description
  • salary
  • bonus payments (if applicable)
  • details of payment
  • working hours and annual leave
  • periods of notice

Paid Leave and Notice Periods

According to Australian employment law, there are three types of employment, based on your working hours and with direct consequences for your rights and benefits:

  • Full-time employees work 38 hours per week. They have a legal right to holiday pay, four weeks of paid annual leave, ten extra days of paid personal leave (e.g. in case of sickness), and two days of paid compassionate leave per occasion (e.g. if a family member falls seriously ill or dies). If an employer wants to lay them off, they have to be given notice one to four weeks in advance, depending on how long they have been working for the company.
  • Part-time workers work fewer than 38 hours per week, and both their pay and their leave are adjusted pro rata. If they work, for instance, only for 19 hours a week, they get paid half the wage of a full-time employee, and have merely two weeks of paid leave per year.
  • Casual employees just work on a daily or even hourly basis. They have no regular or even guaranteed working hours, no annual leave or sick leave, and they can be hired or fired immediately, without a notice period.

In addition to the annual paid leave, there are also 13 public holidays in Victoria, including the territory specific Labor Day and the Melbourne Cup.

Support for Working Parents

Expats with kids might be interested in the regulations for working parents in the state of Victoria. For babies born after January 1, 2011, the Australian government introduced 18 weeks of paid parental leave. During this time, the stay-at-home parent receives the national minimum wage. From January 1, 2013 onwards, this scheme also includes an additional two weeks of Dad and Partner Pay for new fathers or working parents who aren’t the child’s primary caregiver.

Some companies offer employer-funded schemes for parental leave as well. In this case, the pay you receive while taking care of your child may be higher.

Furthermore, parents who have been working at least twelve months for the same employer can request up to twelve months of (unpaid) parental leave as well as so-called “flexible working arrangements”. This can mean working fewer hours, starting and leaving earlier, job-sharing, or setting up a home office.

If you would like to know more about working conditions in Australia and/or Victoria, look at either the Australian Government website or the Victoria state website.

Australian Business Culture

Beyond working conditions, you should also prepare yourself for adapting to Australian business culture. Of course, the tips below cannot replace an intercultural workshop or seminar, but they can give you a few hints of what to expect when you begin your new job in Melbourne.

Australian workplace culture is fairly casual and egalitarian. You will soon be on a first-name basis with your colleagues, and you may notice an overall appreciation for hard work, modesty, and a down-to-earth attitude. Aggressive negotiation techniques or boasting about your own achievements is rather frowned upon. This mindset is also known as “tall poppy syndrome”. You will rather be expected to prove your competence through hard facts and positive results.

However, behind the informal façade and the collaborative approach to problem-solving, Australians are also results-oriented and appreciate clear hierarchies for decision-making. Still, socializing with your workmates (including your bosses) is common. Although people voluntarily work overtime to complete a project or keep a deadline, there is a distinct sense of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. So, if you too value meritocracy, openness, directness, and a slightly informal atmosphere, you will feel right at home in your new Melbourne office.



We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

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