Question – we currently don’t ask applicants for proof of their ability to work in Australia. How can we ask for proof of residency? Must it be from a birth certificate or copy of their passport, or is there any other method we could use?
Answer – Illegal employees in breach of the Migration Act are those who are working in Australia without a visa. Alternatively, they may be in Australia lawfully, but working in breach of their visa conditions. In order to work in Australia lawfully, the following act as valid proof of entitlement to work:
- An Australian birth certificate
- An Australian citizenship certificate
- A certificate of evidence of citizenship
- An Australian passport
- A valid visa with permission to work
- Job Network Job Seeker ID number (Department of Immigration and Citizenship)
Documentation that does not suffice as proof of entitlement to work in Australia includes:
- A tax file number
- A driver’s licence
- A Medicare card
- A bank account
- Referrals from other employment agencies or labour suppliers
- References from previous employers (Department of Immigration and Citizenship)
If you have potential employees from overseas, use the The Dept. of Immigration VEVO to check whether a job applicant has a valid visa to work. This is particularly important if your business operates in an industry which has a high concentration of illegal workers such as hospitality, agriculture, manufacturing, construction, transport, retail or sex industries.
The Department also advises it is important that employers look for signs that a job applicant may be an illegal worker due to the high penalties associated with employing individuals unlawfully working in Australia. The risk that an applicant could be an illegal worker will firstly arise where there is no evidence to suggest Australian citizenship. While this uncertainty is easily quashed at the presentation of a New Zealand citizenship, or any of the above suitable entitlements, there are other red flags to look for if you fear a candidate may be an illegal worker. These include where job applicants:
- Make mention of Australia being merely a ‘visit’,
- Present foreign passports,
- Present foreign qualifications,
- Refuse to provide proof of entitlement to work in Australia.
If a potential employee refuses to oblige to the relevant working eligibility checks, it is best that employers err on the side of caution and explain your inability to proceed with any employment opportunities until their working status in Australia can be verified.