Employer Compliance & Business Sponsorship Obligations

Employer Compliance & Business Sponsorship Obligations

Written by Julie Williams | MARN 9903637 | Published 27 February 2024

Employer Compliance & Business Sponsorship Obligations

Are you ready for sponsorship success?

Australian business sponsors play an important role in facilitating skilled migration to Australia. As an approved Business Sponsor and employer, there are a number of sponsorship obligations that you are required to comply with.

In December 2023, the Government announced their new Migration Strategy, which included:

  • Improving employer compliance
  • Tackling worker exploitation
  • Tackling the misuse of the visa system

In response to this strategy, the Migration Amendment (Strengthening Employer Compliance) Act 2024 (Cth) was enacted, and it commenced on 1 July 2024. The key features of this act include:

  • New employer sanctions
  • Aligning and increasing penalties for work-related breaches
  • Enforceable undertakings for work-related breaches

Maintaining the high standards of employment expected in Australia’s workforce ultimately contributes to Australia’s economic growth and reputation.

Business Sponsorship Obligations & Increased Compliance Measures

In an effort to prevent the exploitation of international workers in Australia and to ensure that the visa program is appropriately being used to address skill shortages, businesses are obligated to (within a specified timeframe):

  • Notify the Department when certain events occur, such as changes to your business, directors, legal name, trading name, business structure, address etc;
  • Notify the Department if a sponsored visa holder ceases work, does not commence work or has a change in duties;
  • Notify the Department if the business becomes insolvent, is bankrupt, goes into receivership, liquidation or administration or ceases to exist as a legal entity;
  • Cooperate with the Department for audits on compliance;
  • Ensure the terms and conditions of their sponsored workers are fair and no less favourable than what would be provided to an Australian employee;
  • Keep and maintain records of employment for all 482 sponsored visa holders;
  • Ensure that the sponsored 482 visa holders are not performing any duties outside of the occupation they were nominated in;
  • Not seek to recover, or recover costs associated with the sponsorship and nomination of the 482 visa holder (including recruitment and migration agent costs);
  • Not engage in discriminatory recruitment practices;
  • Provide records and information to the Department if requested;
  • Pay travel costs for all sponsored workers and their dependants to depart Australia if required; and
  • Pay costs associated with the locating and removal of an unlawful non-citizen (former sponsored worker).

With additional funding of $50 million over 4 years from 2023-24 (and $15.3 million per year ongoing allocated in the 2023-24 Budget) provided to the Australian Border Force, we expect an upswing in enforcement and compliance activities.  This is already evident with the increased compliance measures outlined in the Migration Amendment Bill, which includes:

  • Increased penalties and new offences related to breach of sponsorship obligations and illegal workers
  • Introduction of criminal offences for employers who coerce temporary migrant workers into working in breach of their visa conditions
  • Prohibiting an employer from employing additional temporary migrant workers for a period of time if they have been found to be in breach of relevant migration and workplace-related laws. Details will be included on a public register which includes the employers name, the reasons they have become an ‘prohibited employer’ and the date that this is effect from and to.
  • Increase the maximum criminal and civil penalties for work-related breaches of current provisions of the Migration Act 1958, intended to act as a deterrent to employers from using exploitative practices.
  • Expand the provision of enforceable undertakings and introduce provisions for issuing compliance notices for suspected breaches of work-related breaches.  This is intended to provide additional tools to encourage voluntary employer compliance.
  • Amendments to remove some of the disincentives for temporary migrant workers to report exploitation, where they may fear their visa status would be in jeopardy if they were to report exploitation. This includes protections against visa cancellation and improving opportunities to remain in Australia for migrants who have experienced exploitation.

How Migration Downunder Can Assist

Auditing and compliance services play a crucial role in helping your business comply with your sponsorship obligations whilst maintaining legal and ethical standards in employing overseas temporary skilled workers.  These services involve a comprehensive review of a company’s immigration policies and practices to ensure they align with current migration regulations.

Ongoing Compliance Assessments provide companies peace of mind in Risk Mitigation, Compliance and Reputation Protection.

By proactively addressing compliance issues, organisations can protect their reputation and ensure the successful employment of sponsored temporary workers.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of experienced Migration Agents, should you require assistance in navigating these complexities and implementing efficient auditing and compliance practices.

Organisations sponsoring temporary overseas workers in Australia need to remain vigilant in adhering to the evolving immigration regulations, as breaches of sponsorship obligations can lead to serious consequences.

If any of the above sponsorship obligations are not met, the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) can issue penalties. These penalties may include administrative sanctions (barring or removing the sponsor from participating in the program), infringement notices, sponsors entering into an enforceable undertaking and civil and criminal penalties.

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