A new crackdown on employers who are found guilty of employing illegal workers has been announced by immigration minister Chris Bowen.
The draft legislation, which was announced on Friday August 3 and will be available to the public on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) website until August 21 for submissions and enquiries, outlines graduated tiers of sanctions - including infringement notices and non-fault civil penalties - for employers of illegal workers.
"Illegal workers undermine the integrity of Australia's migration program, reduce work opportunities for Australians and expose vulnerable workers to exploitation," Bowen asserted.
He added that the new draft legislation not only focuses on those who employ illegal workers directly, but also third parties who may work to facilitate the employment of non-citizens without valid work visas.
"The bill also extends liability to certain third parties in order to address sham contracting arrangements often established to circumvent the law, and includes statutory defences to protect those who seek to do the right thing by verifying the work entitlements of non-citizens whom they allow or refer to work," the minister explained.
The draft legislation highlights the important role employers have in verifying any non-citizen's visa status and working rights before they begin employment - and the new measures will include fines and civil penalties for anyone who is discovered to be employing illegal foreign workers.
Any employer who is unsure of the rules surrounding the employment of foreign workers may wish to speak to a skilled immigration lawyer, who can advise on a range of migration visas that may be applicable to your situation.
For example, one popular solution for employers is the 457 visa, which allows them to sponsor skilled workers to carry out specific duties for a fixed period of time of up to four years.
Your migration lawyer can help you to prepare a visa application for your prospective employee - and can even offer valuable advice on the likelihood of the application being approved before you lodge it with the DIAC.
Employers who are thinking about hiring foreign staff may also wish to make use of the DIAC's VEVO system - an online service that allows them to quickly and easily access an individual's visa status and work rights using information provided by the prospective employee , such as a passport number.