If you are seeking to employ overseas nationals to work for you in Australia, it is imperative to check their visa work rights as this can save you thousands.

Under the Migration Amendment (reform of Employer Sanction) Bill 2012, it is now much easier for the Government to prosecute non-compliant companies. Employers are defined as either ‘knowing’ or ‘should have known’ about their employees’ work rights.

Under the new Act, employers accused of breaches must prove that they have taken reasonable steps to check the visa conditions of people found to be working illegally within their business. There are statutory defences available to individuals and businesses that make genuine attempts to verify the status of an overseas national, through means such as checking the Federal Government Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) electronic system.

The penalties for businesses, which employ workers who do not have work rights in Australia, can include infringements notices and civil penalty orders up to $49,500. Individuals may also be subject to civil penalties or criminal sanctions, including a term of imprisonment.
The House of Representatives passed the bill in November last year and it is expected to take effect, following debate in the Senate, in March 2013.

Good Practice Tips!

• Check the overseas national’s work rights before they start work, through Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) http://www.immi.gov.au/e_visa/vevo.htm

• Keep a record of when your employee’s visa expires and the conditions associated with visa. There are a variety of conditions attached to temporary visas, which not only include restricting the type of work that can be undertaken, but also the amount of work the visa holder may undertake during a period of time.

• Don’t just rely on what you are told; do checks, cite and keep a copy of original documentation.

• Avoid discrimination claims by being consistent in your approach to checking work rights. Don’t single out a particular applicant for checking based on their cultural appearance.

• Treat everyone equally by checking the work entitlements of all prospective workers.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.
Reposted from Coleman Greig Lawyers & author is Enza Iannella. Read the original article here.

© Copyright 2013 Coleman Greig Lawyers of Parramatta in Western Sydney