Hiring backpackers or working holiday makers can be the perfect solution to help during busy times. However, it is important to remember that there are strict laws around hiring non-Australian citizens.
Employers are responsible for checking all workers’ rights to work in Australia. It is an offence under the Migration Act 1958 to knowingly or recklessly allow workers to work, or to refer workers for work, where those workers are from overseas and either illegally in Australia or working in breach of their visa conditions.
If you knowingly, or recklessly allow someone without a valid working visa to work or refer them for work you could face criminal charges. People found to be working illegally can also be removed from the workplace without any notice being given to their employer. This can disrupt the workplace and might end up costing the employer money due to loss of income.
There is a free online service which employers can use to check the different types of visas, Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). This is the safest and easiest way to check work entitlements of all new workers from overseas as it provides you with current visa information.
Employers may also like to read the “Do your employees have a valid visa to work in Australia?” booklet.
Australian citizens and permanent residents only need 1 single check at the time of employment.
Temporary visa holders must be rechecked to ensure that no changes have occurred. Employers should check these visas on VEVO every 3 months. If the employer discovers an employee is an illegal worker, the employer must end the working relationship immediately.
Tim Hayter, Principal, Mid West Lawyers
This information is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought for your particular circumstances.