88 Days | FAQ About 2nd Year Visa Work
Working three months or 88 days on farms, constructions, mining sites or fishing boats in rural Australia allows Working Holiday Makers to apply for a one-year extension to their visa. This great opportunity is widely used by backpackers and – why wouldn’t it be! However, there are some rules considering the “three months of rural work” that seem to raise a lot of questions and confusion among backpackers. In this post I am trying to answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions about the 2nd year visa work.
There is a lot of contradictory information all over the Internet about the visa rules, so for this post, I have used the information found from Australian immigration website, which is the official source of any information about your visa.
Information on this article concerns only 417 Working Holiday visa holders and not 462 Work and Holiday visa holders. For information about second year visa for 462 visa holders, please go to: “Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462)” and from there -> “Specified subclass 462 work“.
Where can I find information about 2nd year visa work?
Your primary source of information about anything related to work for the 2nd year visa should always be Australian immigration websites! I know the sites can be difficult to navigate and read, so as a secondary resource of information you can also use other websites to clarify things that concern you. But, as the rules are changing quite frequently, the information you find elsewhere (like from Facebook groups or backpacker friends) may be outdated.
Because of this, it is important to always double check the information you find anywhere else (including this website) from immigration website where the latest and correct information is provided. To get there, go to Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) And click “Specified work” under “Visa Applicants” tab. If the information you receive elsewhere is contradicted to what is said on immigration website, always trust the immigration website!
What kind of work can I do and where?
Work that can be counted towards second year visa must be done in an area that is considered to be regional. Postcode list of regional areas can be found from: homeaffairs.gov.au -> “Visa applicants” -> “Regional areas“. Basically, most areas outside metropolitan areas are considered regional.
Work that can be counted toward your second year visa must be in the following fields:
- plant and animal cultivation
- fishing and pearling
- tree farming and felling
It is not enough that you are employed in some of these fields, but the work you do must be a specific type of work to be counted towards your visa. Examples of work that counts towards your visa days include:
- harvesting and/or packing of fruit and vegetable crops
- pruning and trimming vines and trees
- general maintenance crop work
- cultivating or propagating plants, fungi or their products or parts
- feeding and herding cattle on a farm
- horse breeding and stud farming
- maintaining animals for the purpose of selling them or their bodily produce, including natural increase
- immediate processing of animal products including shearing, butchery, packing and tanning
- landscaping the grounds of a construction/house site
- painting the interior/exterior of new buildings
- conservation and environmental reforestation work
- zoo work involving plant or animal cultivation
- erecting fences on a construction site
Examples of work that is NOT eligible include:
- working as a nanny on a farm
- working at a cellar door providing wine tastings
- general garden maintenance
- maintaining animals for tourism or recreational purposes
- cooking/catering on a mine site
- town planning or architecture
- cleaning the interior of mine complexes or buildings.
- supporting work, such as book-keeping
(source: homeaffairs.gov.au, retrieved 18 Jun 2016.)
Read more: How to Find Farm Work in Australia
How to calculate the days?
Great news for all backpackers! Immigration has finally updated their website and written the section “calculating the days” in a more understandable manner. This is what it says now in homeaffairs.gov.au about calculating the days:
” ‘Three months‘ of specified work means a period equivalent to three ‘calendar’ months, which is taken to be a minimum period of 88 calendar days, including weekends or equivalent rest days during your period of employment.
To meet the three months specified work requirement you must actually work for the same number of days that a full-time employee would normally work in a three month (88 calendar day) period. You can do this in a variety of ways, for example:
- working five days a week for a continuous period of three calendar months, including on a piecework rate agreement; or
- working less than five days a week over a period longer than three calendar months, including on a piecework rate agreement;
- working multiple short periods of work in any combination of full time, part time or piecework rate, which add up to the equivalent of five days a week over three calendar months.
You do not need to do your three months’ specified work all in one go, or all with one employer. You are free to spread the work over the period of your stay in Australia. You can also work for longer than the required minimum of three months.
You cannot complete your specified work requirement in a total period less than three calendar months.
Hours of work per day
You should agree with your employer the number of working hours, before you start work.
One single day of work is considered to be the normal number of hours per day (or per shift) that is considered standard practice in the industry and role in which you are employed.
Note: If you are working on a piecework rate the number of hours can depend on the weather and ripening of crops.”
Source: homeaffairs.gov.au , retrieved 10 Sep 2018
So, long story short: If your work time is considered as a full time in the field you are working you can count the weekends towards the 88 days work. For example, working 8 hours a day for 5 days a week can be counted as 7 visa days. It doesn’t matter even if your contract says you are a “casual” worker, the days are counted based on how much work you actually do.
How much should I get paid?
After 31 August 2015, all the work towards second year visa should be paid at least the minimum wage according to Fair Work Australia. This means that wwoofing and other volunteer work doesn’t count towards your visa anymore.
Most of the work that backpackers do is on a casual contract, which means that you don’t get paid annual leave, paid sick leave or other benefits that full time employees get. This is why the minimum wages for casual employees are slightly higher than for employees with full time contract (more information from Fair Work).
For farm work the minimum wages are following:
“For picking fruit or vegetables, or pruning, you should be paid at least $23.66 an hour if you’re working on a casual hourly basis.
If you’re on a piece work agreement your pay rate has to allow the average competent employee to earn at least 15% more per hour than the relevant minimum hourly rate in the award, which works out to be $26.50 for a casual employee.
You may get paid less if you work slowly or are still learning.” (source: fairwork.gov.au, updated and re-retrieved 10 Sep 2018.)
I know there are some farms that have found a loophole going around this rule by overcharging in accommodation costs, so even if in the paper it looks like they are paying the minimum wage the money that remains to the employee after the deductions is much less. Personally, I consider this to be as much exploitation as not paying the minimum wage so I would not recommend to work for these kinds of farms.
What documents will I need?
Home Affairs website says the following about evidence of employment:
“If you apply for a second Working Holiday visa, you will need to provide evidence that you have satisfied the specified work eligibility requirement, including that you have been paid in accordance with relevant Australian laws and awards. Acceptable evidence of specified work (completed while on your first Working Holiday visa) can include copies of the following:
- pay slip or other evidence of payment for specified work (these must be supplied for all specified work)
- a written and signed piecework rate agreement setting out the pay rate per piece and how it is measured
- group certificate
- payment summary
- employer reference
- Australian bank statement covering the period of declared specified work as evidence of salary payments
- a written and signed agreement setting out any lawful deductions in pay
- a completed Form 1263 Working Holiday visa: Employment verification (75KB PDF) (This form is optional and does not need to be signed by the employer. However, it is a useful way for you to keep track of your specified work, and will assist in the processing of your application)”
Where do I attach these documents?
When you apply for the second year visa you do not attach these documents to your application. You apply for the visa online and you only fill into the online application following information: your employer’s ABN, the day you started working, the day you stopped working and the postcode of your workplace.
Only if you do get investigated you need to send out these documents. Nevertheless, you should have at least your payslips, piece rate agreement and the Form 1263 ready since these can be difficult to acquire afterward if you do get investigated.
My situation is unclear, what should I do?
If you cannot find an answer to your question from this or Australian immigration websites, or if your situation is unclear, my advice is to contact Australian immigration directly. You can contact them by:
Here are also some useful links where you can find more information:
- Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417)
- Evidence of Payment
- Fair Work Australia: Harvest trail campaign
- Harvest Trail
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