:: TIP

To avoid a claim of discrimination, check the work rights status of all prospective employees and keep a record of your efforts to check work rights status

:: TIP

Use DIAC's VEVO to check work entitlements

:: TIP

Maintain records of employees' visa status and diarise expiry dates of all workers who are not Australian citizens or permanent residents

New legislation was introduced into Parliament this week setting out a range of broad criminal and civil penalties against employers who hire illegal workers.

The Migration Amendment (Reform of Employer Sanctions) Bill 2012 proposes the following key amendments:

  • introducing a new employer sanctions regime with new no-fault civil penalties and an infringement notice scheme, as well as maintaining the current criminal sanctions
  • putting in place statutory protection for employers who take reasonable steps to verify work entitlements
  • extending liability for civil and criminal offences to executive officers of bodies corporate, partners in partnerships and members of unincorporated associations
  • extending the definition of 'allow to work' to make participants in the supply chain responsible for employing unlawful non-citizens or engaging lawful non-citizens in breach of their visa conditions
  • providing greater powers for compliance officers to gather documentary evidence against non-compliant employers.

The Government has also announced that it will increase its awareness campaign and, through improvements to the Visa Entitlement Verification On-line ("VEVO") facility, better assist employers seeking access to information about prospective employees' work rights status.

These changes supplement the current sanction of 2 years imprisonment and fines for individuals of $13,200. Corporations can be fined $66,000 in respect of each illegal worker. A number of cases have been reported following successful prosecutions.

Employers should be aware that the Department of Immigration and Citizenship ("DIAC") regularly makes raids on workplaces to check compliance with work rights legislation, often following a tip off to the Dob- In Line 1800 009 623.

Register for VEVO by following the link below: