Check to comply

by 03 Jun 2010
A few simple checks could have prevented a two year jail sentence. Your key Account Manager with the Australian partner forgot to tell you that their visa had expired. How were you to know? Surely you can’t be held accountable?..........Wrong.
According to the Migration Act 1958, “It is a criminal offence for a person to knowingly or recklessly allow an illegal worker to work or refer an illegal worker for work with another business.”
The potential consequence of failing to comply?  The company faces a $66,000 fine for each illegal worker, while the individual responsible is looking at a $13,200 fine and up to two years in jail. As a Company Director or HR practitioner in such a situation, you could be vicariously liable.
This is just one example of legislation driving employee due diligence in Australia. The objective is to protect the freedom and safety of our citizens. The consequences are increasing requirements for Employers to perform personal and stringent pre and post employment checks on their Employees, reducing the risk of placing an unsuitable individual in a position to commit an offence. In the coming years we should expect increasing obligations for Employers to know who they entrust with their resources, assets and customers. There are many enforcers and many penalties for non compliance.
The whole world has become a lot more aware of the dangers of terrorism. The Anti Money Laundering and Counter Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (commonly known as AML) was launched in Australia to combat the estimated $4.5 billion that is laundered in Australia every year. Among numerous controls for reporting and monitoring transactions, businesses covered by the legislation are required to have in place an employee due diligence programme to prevent individuals with an unfavourable background from entering into positions of trust. Guidelines direct businesses to the Australian Standard for Employment Screening (AS4811-2006) which outlines comprehensive checks that should be conducted to verify an individual’s identity, integrity and credentials.  In 2010, it is expected for these requirements to extend to the 40,000 employers in the legal, accounting, real estate and jewellery industries. 
The recently introduced National Consumer Credit Protection Act 2009 captures further businesses involved in credit lending. A recent credit reform update confirmed thatbackground checks are needed so that certain statements about the past conduct of directors, company secretaries, partners or trustees involved in a business can be provided. A credit licence will not be granted without such diligence.
To protect the interests of our ageing population, the Aged Care Act 1997 mandates periodic police checks on all individuals who have access to care recipients, including contractors, and volunteers with unsupervised access. Why is this important? Do you want a convicted money launderer forging close ties with your frail and trusting parents?  
And what about those working with your Children? Certain states have in place legislation mandating checks on individuals with access to young people.
Legislative obligations can feel like a burden on business.   When it comes to mandating background checks on Employees, an Employer should consider the return on investment that is ensuring the best and most appropriate persons are trusted with your success. We live in an era of information - it is possible and desirable to have all the facts before making a decision. When your freedom, safety and success are riding on a decision, wouldn’t you like to know all the facts?
To understand your obligations, contact First Advantage for a free consultation.
For further information, contact:
Guy Cary
Managing Director – Australia and New Zealand
Telephone: +61 (0) 2 9017 4385