Migrant workers constitute a significant proportion of
Australia's workforce. However, not all migrants in Australia
have work rights - not all visas allow work.
If you employ migrant workers, there are a few things you need
You need to ensure that your employee has the right to work in
This can be done by checking the visa status of the employee
yourself by checking online through the Visa Entitlement
Verification Online (VEVO) system provided by the Department of
Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), or by asking an employee
to produce evidence demonstrating their right to work in Australia.
Look out for any specific work conditions or restrictions that
might be attached to their visa.
You could also reduce your liability to exposure to a
right-to-work issue with the DIBP by including a clause in your
employment contract that stipulates that it is the employee's
responsibility to notify you if their visa status changes. However,
even with such a clause, it's ultimately your responsibility to
ensure, as far as practicable, that an employee is lawfully
Different types of visas provide for different work rights
For example, student visas contain a work restriction of up to
40 hours of work per fortnight, while other types of student visas
such as a temporary graduate visa (subclass 485) will have
different work restrictions. Visitor visas (subclass 600) don't
allow migrants to work, but a working holiday visa (subclass 417)
does. Of course, the typical "work visas" such as the
temporary work (skilled) visa (subclass 457) or employer nominated
scheme (ENS) visa (subclass 186) allow migrant workers to work full
time, but have other restrictions and conditions attached such only
working in the nominated position which has been approved by the
If you sponsor skilled workers on subclass 457/186 visas, you
have obligations as a business sponsor to makes sure that you
provide your migrant workers the same working conditions as
Australian workers would receive in the same position. This means
ensuring that any Award obligations are met, and especially, that
you are paying your workers correctly, including overtime and
In the wake of the
7-Eleven scandal and
Yogurberry underpayment allegations, Employment Minister
Michaela Cash has announced that there will be new penalties for
serious contraventions in relation to underpaying workers. The new
penalties will be 10 times higher than the current maximum
Earlier this year, a Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Australian
Workers) Bill 2016 was proposed, with the aim of strengthening
provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 so that the Act more
adequately protects vulnerable migrant workers. Although the Bill
is not proceeding, it is clear from
policy statements released by the Turnbull government, that
efforts to protect vulnerable migrant workers will be increased,
starting with a $20 million investment to establish a Migrant
Workers Taskforce division within the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Recent amendments to the Migration Act and regulations, along with the imminent commencement of the new federal safety net under the Fair Work Act, highlight a number of issues for consideration by employers in documenting terms and conditions of employment for foreign nationals engaged to work in Australia under Subclass 457- Business (Long Stay) visas.
If you employ 457 visa holders in your business, you should ensure that you are meeting your sponsorship requirements.
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