NEWS Hiring Legal Foreign Workers

Are you aware of your rights and obligations when hiring foreign workers?

Hiring legal foreign workers can be a beneficial process for Australian businesses. It encourages diversity, brings new skills to the marketplace, increases economic competiveness and stimulates rural and remote communities. With any business there are risks involved with employing new staff. When it comes to employing legal foreign workers the Department of Immigration and Border Protection can help to inform you how to go about legally hiring non-citizens.

Businesses are expected to take reasonable steps to ensure they are not hiring or referring illegal workers. Hiring an illegal worker can be costly. If you employ or refer a non-citizen who is not allowed to work, even if it is through a third party labour supplier or contractor, you may be liable for the following penalties:

Sanction categoryMaximum penalty
Illegal worker warning noticeAdministrative warning
InfringementAUD 3240 fine for individuals
AUD 16 200 fine for body corporate
Civil penaltyAUD16 200 fine for individuals
AUD 81 000 fine for body corporate
Criminal offenceAUD 21 600 fine and/or two years imprisonment for individuals
AUD 108 000 fine for body corporate
Aggravated criminal offenceAUD 54 000 fine and/or five years imprisonment for individuals
AUD 270 000 fine for body corporate
  • It’s easy to check whether your employees have the right to work in Australia. Visit VEVO
  • For tips and resources about hiring foreign workers, including contractual clauses and exchange letters when using labour hire suppliers or contractors, visit Employing legal workers
  • Foreign workers in Australia must be afforded minimum employee entitlements. The Fair Work Ombudsman has the Pay and Conditions Tool (PACT), which gives you information about pay rates, shift calculations, leave arrangements and entitlements and notice and redundancy entitlements. You can find the tool at or call 13 13 94
  • If you’re aware of an individual or agent who is organising illegal work in Australia, you can report them via the Immigration and Citizenship Online Report

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