Workplaces with employees currently holding a visa will need to take extra steps to ensure the employees are working legally in Australia. On 1 July 2015, the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service merged to create the ‘Australian Border Force’. The merger is part of a tougher compliance regime on temporary visa holders and also allows for greater sharing of information amongst Commonwealth agencies.
Due to the high number of employees in the QSR industry on student visas, and other types of visas, it is important employers check that all their employees have the right to work in Australia. Government figures show that there are almost 1.9 million people in Australia on a temporary visa, 100,000 of whom are working illegally.
Employers face penalties of up to $76,500 per worker they employ illegally, even if they did so unknowingly, so they must take all reasonable steps to ensure their employees have appropriate work rights. See our article for information about evidence employees can provide to prove they can legally work in Australia.
Following amendments to the Migration Act 1958 in 2013, it is the employer’s obligation to check that their employees can legally work in Australia. It is recommended that VEVO checks for employees on all types of visas should occur every 3-6 months:
- after an employee commences work as their visa might expire,
- since a refusal of a visa application might cause an employee’s bridging visa (and right to work in Australia) to expire,
- because an employee may obtain a further visa which has reduced or no work rights, or
- an employee’s visa may be cancelled due to a breach of its conditions
What if I have employed someone working illegally?
If you discover one of your employees has been working illegally, the employment relationship must be terminated immediately. Employers can face penalties whether you knew the employee was illegal or not, or whether this was a first offence.