Employing legal workers

It is the responsibility of all Australian businesses to employ legal workers.

Employers are expected to take a reasonable number of steps to make sure they are not employing, referring or contracting illegal workers. To make this easier, the following information explains what steps employers should take to avoid penalties. 

See: 'Employing legal workers​' video

Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents and New Zealand citizens are legal workers and have unlimited permission to work in Australia. A single check confirming this at the time of employment is all that is required.

Employers who believe their worker is a foreign national must carry out further checks to confirm that person has a visa with permission to work.

It is important to note that we only inform visa holders if they are not allowed to work or if they have work restrictions on their visa. If an employer checks a person’s visa details and there are no work restrictions, the employer can be confident that person is a legal worker.

The preferred method of checking visa details is to register for our free, online system Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). Alternatively, employers can ask their worker to send their visa details directly to them using VEVO Email.

VEVO Email is new and convenient as employers do not need to register but will receive an email directly from a visa holder with their VEVO results. This can be used as evidence that the employer took steps to confirm permission to work.

Employers found to have employed, referred or contracted a foreign national who does not have permission to work or is in breach of their visa conditions (an illegal worker) face penalties of up to AUD3060 to AUD102,000 per illegal worker.

Our focus is to effectively respond to those businesses that wilfully take part in illegal work, not to penalise businesses who act in good faith.

For more information, see our Guide for Employers and the 'Resources' below.

We encourage people to give information to us relating to illegal workers, fraud and immigration and citizenship offences using the Immigration dob-in service.

Resources

The following resources provide more information about employing legal workers.

G​uide A guide for employers outlining a range of steps employers can take to make sure they are complying.

Scenarios Examples of employment scenarios​ and the reasonable steps that are required
Contract clauses Examples of contractual clauses and exchange of letters for use by employers to stipulate that supplied workers are not illegal workers.

Fact Sheet Fact Sheet – Employing Legal Workers (174KB PDF)
Legislation Information on Reforms to Employer Sanctions provides additional detail about the employer sanctions legislation.
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