Employers face stiff fines over illegal workers

by 06 Mar 2012

Following a recent spate of immigration raids, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) has renewed its warning to employers that significant fines exist for those employers found to have employed illegal workers.

Failing to adequately check the immigration status of their prospective employees remains a significant risk for employers, and raids in Melbourne this week saw the deportation of 16 illegal workers and stringent fines imposed on the employers.

Illegal workers from Indonesia were arrested and transferred to detention whilst awaiting deportation and a DIAC spokesperson said raids serve as a warning to the community that there are serious consequences for employing illegal workers. “It is the responsibility of employers to ensure that non-Australian workers they hire hold a visa with valid work rights. Illegal workers in Australia will not be tolerated and the department actively investigates community reports and takes swift action to apprehend non-citizens without work rights.”

The penalties for failing to comply with immigration legislation can run into thousands of dollars and jail time is also being dished out to employers in some cases.

Individuals responsible for employing illegal workers face fines of up to $13,200 and two years’ imprisonment if convicted under Commonwealth legislation. Additionally, companies can also be fined for overall organisational negligence and fined up to $66,000 per illegal worker.

Organisations that wish to check the immigration status of prospective employees (with their consent) can do so for free at the DIAC Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) service.

The service was used for more than 485,330 work checks last year, and Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said there was ''simply no excuse'' for employers not to use the online system.


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