Migration compliance an important issue

Date: Mar 20, 2012

As immigration lawyers know, the legislation that relates to workplace relations and employer obligations is applicable to all who are employed in Australia.

This means that all of the employment requirements and terms that apply to local workers are also extended to cover foreign staff members out here on the 457 subclass.

On top of this, firms that hire international employees actually have obligations that are applied in addition to the requirements of workplace relations law.

According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), the vast majority of employers making use of these skilled migration hiring options are compliant with these requirements - often going above and beyond the call to ensure their overseas workers have the support they need.

This is just good business sense, as happy workers are more productive and can make valuable contributions in unexpected ways.

In fact the DIAC notes that it is only a small percentage of sponsors that have been found to be negligent in meeting their obligations.

For this minority of employers, there is little protection in claiming ignorance of their legislative requirements.

All migration agents - including lawyers in immigration - are required to be registered with the Office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (MARA).

This act certifies that professionals will comply with the dedicated code of conduct that helps to protect the interests of clients by ensuring that they receive quality information.

In this way, MARA is actively promoting the application of the latest legal requirements across both sponsors and their foreign workers - while unregistered sources may not be able to deliver the same level of quality.

As such, the DIAC says that of the thousands of employers making use of skilled migration sponsorship, it has only had to issue breach warnings to a total of 270.

In addition, the immigration department has only delivered 188 official warnings - with a further 75 legal sanctions - between July 1 2011 and February 29 2012.

Of these infringements, 37 resulted in civil actions worth in excess of $186,000 - a substantial fine for any firm to have to cover.

Some of these cases may have had a bearing on the responsibilities of the Fair Work Ombudsman - in which case the DIAC said its officials sought to work in tandem with workplace relations officers.

This helps to show that a vast majority of Australian businesses feel compelled to actively seek out quality advice on their obligations towards international employees.