Immigration warns of crackdown

by 05 Oct 2011

Employers have been issues a stern warning by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship - severe penalties will be imposed for employing illegal workers.

The warning comes after a two-day blitz in Bundaberg, central Queensland, where seven illegal retail and horticultural workers were detained.

A spokesman for the Department of Immigration and Citizenship said liable individuals could face fines of up to $13,200 and two years' imprisonment for employing an illegal worker, and businesses as much as $66,000 per illegal employee.

"The department's compliance operations serve as a warning to the community that they can face severe consequences for remaining in Australia without a valid visa, or for employing illegal workers," the spokesperson added.

The spokesman said illegal worker warning notices would be issued to employers or labour supply companies who had employed or referred illegal workers.

"The notices advise employers that they have employed an illegal worker and warn of the possibility of prosecution," he said.

Bundaberg Fruit and Vegetable Growers chairman Geoff Chivers said it was an "onerous" task for employers in the horticulture industry to chase up employee paperwork, but employers should be aware of the penalties they face.

The Department of Immigration has provided a range of work scenarios for Australian employers on their website, including:

  • 'Allows to work' scenarios
  • 'Refers for work' scenarios
  • 48 hour grace period scenarios
  • Checking work entitlements scenarios
  • How the department can assist employers

Additionally, Growcom has a fact sheet for HR professionals, outlining the responsibilities of checking work entitlements.


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  • by Katie Fuller 6/10/2011 5:03:16 PM

    This is a very informative article and one that should be top of mind for recruiters and agencies alike. Employing a person without work rights can not only result in significant fines but it can also erode the rigorousness of the recruitment process. Due diligence in recruiting human resources is becoming increasingly critical as the background of employees also impacts on a business’ success and its exposure to risk and such due diligence assists in building a culture of integrity.

    I work for an organisation called Verify and we undertake in-depth background verification checks on candidates as part of an employer’s candidate screening process. A key one among over 75 different checks that we conduct, is what is known as ‘Entitlement to Work’. While seemingly simple on the outside, given that Australian and NZ visas have a variety of subclasses, there is a substantial amount of legislation and information to interpret to ensure accuracy in terms of worker rights and entitlements. We investigate and decipher this information and present a clear recommendation on exactly what hours, for how long, and the type of work a candidate is entitled to perform under different legislation. Have a look at or ring on 02 9947 2963.

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