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Legislative changes to impact summer hiring

Legislative changes to impact summer hiring
October 7, 2018
Legal /

As most leisure businesses would know, when holidays and the summer season approaches, so does the pressure to secure additional staff to help resource the peak period.

As Will Aldous, Registered Migration Agent, Managing Director at TSS Immigration and Co-Founder of CheckWorkRights, explains “this often involves employing suitably qualified staff who are on working holiday or student visas - but what checks do you do to ensure all of those workers have the right to work in Australia?

“Most organisations don’t have visa experts on hand in their HR department, so it’s important to make sure you’re aware of the key requirements and source expert help if you’re unsure.”

Aldous advises that there have been some significant changes in this space – including increased monitoring/data matching by government authorities and increased fines for non-compliance. Some key changes organisation’s should be aware of include:

• The Australian Government has ramped up its monitoring and there is a new Immigration and Citizenship fraud reporting call centre, which serves as an avenue for anonymous ‘whistleblowing’ on illegal work.
• The Australian Tax Office and the Department of Home Affairs are now data-matching, which aims to crack down on foreign workers and businesses who are non-compliant. And remember, claiming ignorance to the issue is not a valid excuse and will not protect you.
• Penalties for non-compliance are expensive and can now fall directly on Company Directors. Employing illegal workers carries significant penalties, including fines for individuals of up to $25,200 and/or two years’ imprisonment and up to $126,000 for corporations per illegal worker.

Aldous adds that “there are also a lot of misconceptions out there about what a business’s obligations are, whether it's a student visa, holiday working visa or temporary visa.”

He highlights five key things employers need to know to ensure their organisation isn’t at risk:

• Checking ‘right to work’ status should be a standard part of your hiring procedure. There are approximately two million temporary visitors in Australia at any given point in time. Think about the last person you hired. Did you question that person’s right to work in Australia? There is now technology, like the CheckWorkRights app, that makes this very easy – all you need to do is scan the person’s passport.
• Many businesses don’t realise that even if an agency does the hiring or even if it is a volunteer/unpaid/work-experience position, it is still the business’s responsibility to check (and regularly monitor) the right to work status of that employee.
• The initial check is not enough. Once an employee is hired and proven to be compliant, you need to keep a regular eye on the employee’s visa status to ensure it’s still active. For businesses employing large numbers of visa workers, this can be very difficult without some kind of automation/assistance from technology to alert HR to key review dates and issues.

Will Aldous, Registered Migration Agent, Managing Director at TSS Immigration and Co-Founder of CheckWorkRights, an Australian automated visa checking system.

For more information go www.checkworkrights.com.au

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