How To Calculate 88 Days of Work for your Second Year Visa in Australia
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21st Jul | 14 min read

For Second year Working Holiday Visa applicants backpacking in Australia, calculating your 88 days of specified work experience can raise some questions. With many regional employers paying salaries with a mix of piece rates and full-time and part-time hourly wages, it can get really confusing knowing if you've met the specified work requirements needed to apply for a second visa.

Whether you work full time, part-time, or casually doing fruit picking jobs, once you're finished reading this post, you'll know exactly how to calculate your 88 days of specified work.

If you're looking for fruit picking work in Australia for your second-year visa, make sure to check out the fruit picking jobs section of our blog.

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What are the Qualifications Needed for a Second Year Visa?

Doing a minimum of 3 months (88 days) of specified work in Australia will qualify you to apply for a second-year visa under both visa subclasses. Specified work is any work that is undertaken in a “specific” industry in a designated regional area in Australia.

To be eligible to apply for a second-year visa, all wages paid for your specified work must be the correct legal wages under the relevant Australian legislation. You also have to make sure that your employer is registered to tax you the correct amount. To learn more about how you should be taxed by your employer, check out this page.

Also, if you are unsure about the differences between a subclass 417 Working Holiday Visa and a subclass 462 Work and Holiday Visa, we cover these distinctions in our comprehensive guide to applying for a Working Holiday Visa in Australia.

For details about the approved jobs for second-year visa applicants in Australia and the regions where you can work, make sure to visit the Department of Home Affairs specified work pages for subclass 417 Visa holders and subclass 462 Visa holders. I'll also briefly cover the approved industries where you can work below.

Approved Industries in Australia for Second-Year Visa Applicants (Subclass 417)

According to the Department of Home Affairs, the approved industries for second-year visa jobs under this subclass include:

  • Plant and animal Cultivation
  • Fishing and pearling
  • Tree farming and felling
  • Mining
  • Construction

Approved Industries in Australia for Second Year Visa Applicants (Subclass 462)

For Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462) holders, the approved industries and regions for specified work include:

  • Plant and animal cultivation in northern Australia and other specified areas of regional Australia
  • Fishing and pearling in northern Australia only
  • Tree farming and felling in northern Australia only
  • Tourism and hospitality in northern Australia only

How do you calculate 88 days of Specified Work Experience?

To be eligible to apply for a second-year visa in Australia, you will have to work the same number of days that a full-time employee would ordinarily work in a three-month period within the same industry. If you work five days a week with two rest days, you will work about 65 days in 3 months. But this doesn't mean you can just work 65 days straight, as this won't count as 3 months of specified work. If it's ordinary in your industry for a full-time employee to work for 38 hours a week, with 5 days on and 2 days off, then that is the duration you will need to work to fully meet your specified work requirement.

Generally, you will need to work at least 5 days a week to be entitled to two rest days. In other words, in most circumstances, applicants can include two notional rest days in the 88 calendar days for every five days worked.

An Important thing to note is that, if you work more hours than a full-time employee, it won't count as another day. For example, if a normal day of work in your industry is 5 hours, and you work 10, it will only count as a day, not two.

The department of home affairs understands that there are many factors affecting what constitutes a normal full day in each eligible industry. This is especially true in the agricultural sector, which is a popular industry for backpackers to work in. For this reason, home affairs does not prescribe a number of minimum hours for a normal or ‘full’ day. In order to determine what constitutes ordinary working hours in your particular industry, you are encouraged to check the industry’s corresponding award.

If you're looking for a travel partner while you are on your second-year visa in Australia, you can use GAFFL. Browse through the trips below, connect with travelers with similar itineraries, meet up, and travel together

Working Holiday Visa applications on a case by case basis

The department of home affairs in Australia emphasizes that all second-year visa applications will be assessed on a case by case basis. A standard work week from a full-time employee in Australia is usually 38 hours. Because of this, working 38 hours per week is a great benchmark for meeting your work requirement. However, if you cannot meet 38 hours due to extraneous circumstances that are normal occurrences within your industry, you will be okay.

For example, if you are working on a farm, the number of hours you work will depend on the crop, weather, and other factors. You may not necessarily be able to reach 38 hours every week, but since this is the industry standard, you will have met the work requirement if your employer is satisfied. In situations like this, it is up to your employer to decide if you have worked a full day. For this reason, it is always a good idea to check with your employer and the Department of Home Affairs to confirm if your hours will count towards the specified word requirement. You should also always check with your industry's corresponding award to know what the conditions for your employment are.

What are Awards?

Awards are legal documents that outline the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment, including ordinary working hours. There are more than 100 industry or occupation awards in Australia. I’ve listed some of the relevant ones for Australia's second-year visa applicants below.

Plant and animal Cultivation

Fishing and pearling

Tree farming and felling



Tourism and Hospitality

Maria & Sophia example from Home Affairs website

You will notice from the awards that an ordinary workweek for a full-time employee is usually 38 hours. Thus, if you are averaging 38 hours per week, you should be working about 7.6 hours a day. This is pretty straightforward until you go on Home Affairs specified work pages (linked above) and see the examples given for Maria and Sophia.

From the examples, Maria and Sophia both work irregular hours, at times less than 38 hours per week. However, they seem to still be making the specified work requirement. I've seen a lot of debate about this online. People use these examples as justification that they can work 6 hours a day and still meet their specified work requirements. My answer to this is it really depends on what work you're doing.

Maria and Sophia are both doing Pastoral work. If you look at the Pastoral Award, it reads "The average ordinary working hours for a Farm and livestock hand will be fixed by agreement between the employer and the employees but will not exceed an average of 38 hours per week over a four week period". Therefore, for them to work less than 38 hours is permitted under this award.

Why Awards Are So Important for Second Year Visa Applicants in Australia

If you look at the horticultural award it states, " The ordinary hours of work for all full-time and part-time employees other than shift workers will not exceed 152 hours over a four week period provided that 
the ordinary hours will not exceed eight hours per day except by arrangement between the employer." Thus, for full-time employees, there are no minimum hours that need to be worked, only a maximum. In a situation like this if the employer reasonably considers that an applicant has completed a normal full day of work for that industry, then the departmental decision-maker may generally be satisfied to count that day of work toward the three months’ requirement.

Conversely, the Tourism and Hospitality Award clearly has a minimum and maximum hours requirement. It states that a day of work for a full-time employee is "a minimum of six hours and a maximum of 11 and a half hours". Thus, a backpacker in Australia employed in this industry can work 6 hours per day and still fully meet their work requirement for a 2nd Working Holiday Visa.

This is why looking at your relevant award is essential to know if you are meeting the specified work requirement.

What If You Don't Work Full-Time?

Not everyone will be lucky enough to get full-time work for 3 months straight. You may have to work casually doing a combination of part-time and piecework over a longer period.

Below are examples of two different scenarios for someone who works in the Fishing and Pearling industry.

According to the Building and Construction Award 2010:

  • The ordinary working hours will be 38 per week
  • Worked between 7.00 am and 6.00 pm
  • Monday to Friday

If you are working in construction from September 1st to November 30th you can work 7.6 hours a day for five days a week. If you do this work consecutively for the 13 week period, you will meet the requirements needed to apply for a 2nd Working Holiday Visa in Australia.

Alternatively, from September 1st to November 30th, if you are part-time with a total of 5 days worked (7.6hours per day) for every 2 weeks during that period, you will have only completed about half of the specified work requirement. You will still need to make up 6 or 7 weeks depending on which week you started.

What is the Difference Between Part-Time and Casual Work?

Anyone who is a part-time employee will be working less than 38 hours per week. However, part-timers should still expect consistent working hours.

In contrast, Casual employees do jobs that are usually temporary with irregular hours and no guarantee of the work is ongoing. Because of the lack of annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, a notice of termination, redundancy benefits, and the other attributes of full-time or part-time employment, casual workers are provided a casual loading of 25% to their wages.

This is an important consideration when talking about piece rates as many pieceworkers in Australia are also casual employees. More on this below.

What is a Piecework Rate?

A piece rate is when you get paid for your output. This means you get paid based on each unit you have produced or action you have performed instead of an hourly or weekly pay rate. An employee can be hired to work a mix of piece rates and hourly rate shifts. To legally be paid by piece rate a written agreement needs to be signed by you and your employer. This is called a piecework agreement.

What is a Piecework Agreement?

A piecework agreement sets out the pay rate per piece and how it is measured for a particular job. Since different jobs will likely have different variables, you can assign four piecework rates using this agreement. Moreover, in the agreement, the employer needs to select if the employee will be full-time, part-time, or casual. This is a very important consideration for second-year visa applicants in Australia.

There is a lot of debate on online forums and Facebook groups about how piecework is calculated in Australia for second-year visa applicants. Some claim that if you are working on a piece-rate then the hours you work and the wages you make are irrelevant. They say that if you show up to work, only work an hour, and get paid for it, it will count as a full day of specified work towards your second working holiday visa application. We don’t think this is entirely correct. Here’s why.

By definition “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”. The term full-time is very important here. If you are classified as full-time on your piecework agreement, as long as you show up and are paid for the day, then theoretically regardless of how long you have actually worked, it should count as a full day of specified work.

However, we think that this would work differently if you were classified as casual. For a casual pieceworker, it would make sense that they determine how many days you have worked by your wages.

We have not confirmed this information with immigration, we would strongly consider doing so before taking on a piecework assignment.

How can Piecework Count Towards 88 Days for Casual Workers?

For casual piece workers, finding out if they are actually meeting the specified work requirements can be confusing. To determine eligibility you will need to know what the minimum wage is in your industry. Simply put, if you are paid on a piece rate, and your weekly piece rate pay is higher than the weekly minimum wage for a full-time worker in that industry + the casual loading in that respective industry, you are meeting the requirements for a second year visa in Australia.

Here’s an example of that using the Mining industry.

According to the Mining Industry Award 2010:

  • The minimum wage for entry level full-time employees is $745.60
  • Casual loading is 25%

Thus, casual miners making at least $932 ($745.60 x 25%) weekly on a piece rate, are meeting the minimum requirement.

What is Piecework Loading?

In some industries you can earn more per hour as a pieceworker than as a full-time employee being paid hourly. This is known as the piecework loading and it is an important consideration for second year visa applicants in Australia. It works similarly to how casual loading works, however, the loading amount varies based on the work you are doing. For anyone doing plant & animal cultivation, as well as anyone working with tree planting & felling, we would strongly encourage taking a look at those industries’ awards, as they have different piecework loading amounts for different jobs.

I’ll show you how casual loading and piecework loading can impact your specified hours worked in the following example.

A Real Life Example

We were provided the above payslip by Alexandre, a member of the Backpackers 88 days and counting Australia Facebook group. He is a casual worker doing plant cultivation in regional Australia in order to earn his second-year visa. He’s being paid with a combination of part-time and piece-rate wages. Alexandre wanted to know if he has met the minimum requirements for this week.

According to the Horticultural Award 2010:

  • The minimum wage for an entry-level, full-time employee is $719.20 per week ($18.93 per hour)
  • Casual employees will not exceed 304 ordinary hours over an eight week period. (38 hours per week)
  • Casual loading of 25% for each ordinary hour of work by a casual employee between 5.00 am and 8.30 pm.
  • The piecework loading is 15%

We could assume that he has made the required time because his gross pay is higher than the minimum wage. However, if we factor in the causal & piecework loading, he seems to be short.

He's worked for 24 hours, he will need to make up 14 to meet 38 hours for the week.

Minimum wage is $18.93 x (15% piece-rate loading + 25% casual work loading) = $26.50. This is the minimum hourly rate someone working as a casual pieceworker should make as a fruit picker.

Therefore, since he has earned $337.50 in piecework wages, divided by the hourly piece rate, he's worked around 13 hours. Thus he is technically still one hour short of 38 hours for the week.

Another way to look at this example

We can also examine this in a different way. Alexandre is getting paid $45 per bin. He told me that it takes him roughly 90 mins to pick a bin of cider. If we assume that this is the average amount of time that it takes all competent workers to pick a bin of cider, then he is technically being paid $30 per hour for each hour of picking work he does. If we factor this in like we did above, Alexandre has only made up 11.25 hours.

I’m hoping that this post was able to help with confusion around a second year working holiday visa in Australia. we would strongly recommend directly contacting the Department of Home Affairs in Australia for questions regarding your second-year visa application.

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