Description – Employing a Non-citizen at the workplace is against the law. Check out the penalties and cost associated with it?
You must be aware of the fact that hiring migrant workers illegally is still a huge issue in Australia. As per Australia’s Department of Home Affairs, more than 10,0000 illegal workers are employed by Australian companies. Out of them, around 75,000 are working in the agricultural industry.
Sometimes, Australian firms end up hiring illegal workers that cost them a lot; they end up paying penalties, affecting their company. In this guide, you will learn more about illegal workers, the cost of hiring such workers and much more.
The (ABF) or Australian Border Force Investigation
As per an investigation conducted by the ABF, a Melbourne company that was operating farms was convicted and fined; the reason behind this is they hired and used illegal workers to work for them. People or organisations who are found employing workers whose visas do not allow them to work lawfully in Australia may have to pay fines and even be subjected to jail.
To stay safe from all these things, it is important to be able to hire international workers legally. This is especially for companies facing talent and skill shortages, and companies must know that only international workers who have work visas or other relevant visas with them must be hired for work.
A Melbourne Company Was Convicted and Also Fined for Hiring and Using Illegal Workers.
On June 10, 2022, a company in Melbourne was convicted in the Country Court of Victoria. This is because they committed two offences under the Migration Act laid down by the country. One of them is to allow an unlawful international worker to work, and the other is allowing such a citizen to work, breaching the work-related condition.
As per the words of ABV, the allegations happened during peak harvest seasons over various years. This was when the company had various illegal workers on its premises (all of them had been engaged via a labour-hire company). When you hire illegal workers in your company, there are consequences that your company must face. It doesn’t matter if the organisation was unaware of the breach in the visa conditions of those workers; they must face the charges.
Employing illegal workers does not sit well with Australia’s migration law, and as an Australian employer, you must be aware of this. It is the responsibility of the employer to know the status of their worker’s visas so that nothing is wrong. It is best to hire a migration agent in such cases.
It is also unethical to hire illegal workers and exploit vulnerable migrants just for some monetary gain. Many workers feel exploited and know that they have no rights; they are usually fearful of coming forward.
What is an Unlawful Worker?
An illegal or unlawful international worker is a person who does not possess an appropriate visa that can allow them to work in Australia. For instance, the visas under the Tourist steam cannot Allow Visa holders to Work in Australia during their time.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics or ABS, more than 62,100 visa overstayers live in Australia. Most of these individuals are suspected to be working unlawfully, and in the case of the Melbourne company stated before, there were two kinds of illegal workers (unlawful or lawful citizens).
Difference Between Lawful and Unlawful Citizens
Unlawful citizens are people whose visas have expired but who did not leave the country. They can also be people who came to Australia on a visa that does not allow them to work in the country. It is illegal for Australian organisations to employ unlawful international workers.
A lawful citizen or non-citizen are those people who may have a current visa with them but no work rights. For instance, they might have a Tourist visa, or they may even have a visa that offers work rights. But they might have breached the conditions of their work visa.
If you are one of the illegal workers caught working illegally in Australia, you might have your visa cancelled and also be deported. You might also be fined and prevented from entering Australia in the future. If you are unfortunate, you can even be put in immigration detention centres till the necessary agreements are made.
What Are Some of the Penalties for Australian Employers Who Hire Illegal Non-Citizen Workers?
Under Australian law, the exploitation of migrants and the hiring of illegal workers has some serious penalties. These penalties can also include huge fines or imprisonment.
⦁ Warning: In most cases, an Illegal Worker Warning Notice or IWWN is issued at the initial notice.
⦁ Infringement notice: After providing a warning, the government will issue an infringement notice and a fine. This is unless any form of evidence is provided to them. In such cases, there is no requirement for court proceedings.
⦁ Proceedings for civil penalty order: The Australian government will also be able to undertake civil proceedings. This can result in much higher fines for the Australian business and additional court costs.
⦁ Criminal proceedings: For some particular offences that are serious and repeating, there might be criminal proceedings. This will also lead to higher fines and possible imprisonment of around two years for each offence.
What Are the Offences for Which Businesses Are Found to Be in Breach of the Employer Sanctions Legislation?
There are four offences, and they are as follows:
⦁ To allow or continue to allow an illegal non-citizen to work in Australia.
⦁ To allow or continue to allow an illegal non-citizen to work in breach of the visa condition
⦁ To refer an illegal non-citizen to work in Australia
⦁ To refer a non-citizen to work breaching work-related visa conditions.
How Will You Be Able to Avoid the Penalties?
If Australian immigration detects an individual working illegally, the business will have to establish a statutory defence to avoid civil penalties. The Australian Business must be able to show that it has taken proper steps at proper times to verify the work rights of the person.
Some of the required steps can include the following:
⦁ The company can use a computer system that Migration Regulations prescribe to verify the visa conditions before work and after the visa expiry.
⦁ The company can also create a contractual obligation for another to verify the worker’s work rights in the country.
⦁ A passport visa label can be viewed showcasing proof of a permanent visa or a temporary visa that has work rights.
⦁ The viewing may appear to be an Australian passport.
Many Australian employers check the visa labels on passports before employing a worker. This might help confirm that the individual has the visa at the time of starting work. But some circumstances can change after work starts work, such as:
⦁ The individual’s visa might have expired
⦁ The worker might have a bridging visa if the main application is refused
⦁ The individual may no longer have work rights
⦁ The person’s visa might be cancelled due to a breach of visa conditions.
It is not legal for Australian employers to be employing illegal workers from outside the country. It is best to take the assistance of a Visa lawyers Perth if there are issues with a worker’s visa. The best visa lawyers can ensure that you do not hire illegal international workers to work in your company.