Hefty fines for employers who breach sponsorship obligations

(Australian Border Force 29-11-2019)

A mechanical workshop north of Melbourne has been fined $18,900 for underpaying temporary foreign workers, following recent enforcement activity by the Australian Border Force (ABF).

A total of 111 workplaces across Australia that sponsor temporary skilled workers were visited by the ABF during October.

A number of businesses were sanctioned during the activity, aimed at ensuring employers comply with their sponsorship obligations.

Workers on temporary visas are entitled to the same basic rights and protections as Australian citizens and permanent residents under applicable laws.

“The Australian Border Force undertakes proactive, targeted sponsor compliance activities to ensure certain sponsors are not breaching their obligations,” ABF Investigations Acting Commander Penny Spies said.

“In the case of a mechanical workshop north of Melbourne, the sponsor was penalised for being unable to provide evidence that three sponsored temporary skilled visa holders received their full entitlements.”

The ABF cancelled the employer’s sponsorship agreement and barred the employer from making further applications for approval as a sponsor for two years.

In other breaches, a Darwin based restaurant was fined almost $19,000 for offences including underpaying three sponsored temporary skilled visa holders.

A cleaning company with a head office in Sydney’s south was fined $12,600 for the same offence, after underpaying one worker. A Thai massage parlour on the NSW south coast and a prestige car retailer in Brisbane were both fined $6,300 for other breaches.

Australian businesses are able to sponsor suitably skilled temporary migrant workers to fill a position if they can demonstrate that they cannot not find an appropriately skilled Australian worker.

The Australian Border Force maintains a publically available register of sponsors who breach their sponsorship obligations. Penalties for breaching sponsorship obligations include cancellation of their approval as a sponsor, being barred from sponsoring other workers, being barred from making future applications for approval as a sponsor and being issued with infringement notices.

Public disclosure aims to deter other sponsors from breaching their obligations and protects foreign workers from exploitation by enabling them to inform themselves about working for a potential sponsor.

Updates to the publicly available register occur periodically.