International students in Australia who are employed at supermarkets will no longer face a 40-hour fortnightly cap during the lockdown. Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs Alex Hawke announced that the Morrison government has allowed supermarkets in states and territories subject to COVID-19 lockdowns to employ international students in excess of the 40 hours per fortnight cap.
This is to help businesses remain open and to help supermarkets meet the high customer demand for critical goods. This temporary measure will apply at all New South Wales and Victorian supermarkets and associated distribution facilities for the duration of their respective lockdown periods.
“Supermarket workers have been unsung heroes of the pandemic. They stepped up to ensure Australians have access to essential items, and they have kept doing so during the pandemic’s darkest days,” said Hawke. “This temporary measure ensures that supermarkets can continue to provide their critical services to the community and it provides essential workers themselves with added income flexibility during lockdowns.”
This decision follows a request for urgent relief by the supermarket sector, as many staff are subject to self-isolation orders. Previously, the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force said they would take a flexible approach to student visa holders, including those working beyond their usual work limitations if students are employed by aged and disability care service providers, agriculture and tourism and the hospitality sector.
Supermarkets in States and Territories subject to COVID-19 lockdowns will be able to employ international students in excess of the normal 40 hours per fortnight cap, helping them remain open to provide their essential services to the community.
— Alex Hawke MP (@AlexHawkeMP) July 17, 2021
Balance work and study despite more flexibility, international students told
The Department of Home Affairs notes that international students must continue to balance their study and work commitments even though there is more flexibility in work hours in certain sectors.
Students who work more than 40 hours per fortnight in the permitted sectors must maintain their course enrollment and ensure satisfactory course attendance and course progress. Those who cancel their enrollment and stop attending classes, or fail to meet satisfactory course progress, may be in breach of their visa conditions, said the department.
“If you are working or have an offer of employment in one of the sectors above, and you have finished your course, you may be eligible for a COVID-19 Pandemic (subclass 408) visa. You can only apply for this visa 90 days before your student visa is due to expire. You do not need to contact us if you wish to work more than 40 hours per fortnight in one of the sectors listed above,” it said.