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Employing legal workers

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

Legal workers are Australian citizens, permanent residents and people in Australia with a valid visa that allows them to work. This includes New Zealand citizens.

Not everyone who comes to Australia on a visa is allowed to work. A person working without a valid visa, or working in breach of a visa condition, is an illegal worker.

Australian businesses should check that their workers are allowed to work, whether it is paid or unpaid work. This is regardless of whether workers are sourced directly or via a contractor, labour hire or referral company.

Businesses face penalties if they employ, refer or contract non-citizens who are not allowed to work, or who are restricted from undertaking certain work, in Australia. The fines range from AUD3 060 to AUD102 000.

Australian businesses are expected to take reasonable steps, at reasonable times, to ensure they are not employing, referring or contracting illegal workers. Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) is a free online service and is the preferred method to check if non-citizens are allowed to work.

For more information and examples of reasonable steps businesses can take including options for checking if a person is allowed to work, see our guide for businesses below.

Need a visa holder's status now?

You can ask non-citizens to send their current visa details from VEVO Email.  You will receive an email directly from VEVO.  This email can be used as evidence that your business took reasonable steps to confirm that the non-citizen is allowed to work.

Further information

Resources for employing legal workers
Information Resource
Guide A guide for businesses outlining steps to comply with the law and options for checking if a person is allowed to work.

Contract clauses Examples of contractual clauses and exchange of letters for use by businesses to stipulate that supplied workers are allowed to work in Australia.

Fact Sheet Fact Sheet – Employing Legal Workers (174KB PDF)
Frequently asked questions Frequently Asked Questions – Employing non-citizens
Presentation Presentation – Employing Legal Workers (766KB PDF)
Legislation Information on Reforms to Employer Sanctions provides additional detail about the employer sanctions legislation.
Dob-in service We encourage people to provide information to us relating to illegal workers, immigration and citizenship offences and fraud using the Immigration dob-in service.