Australian Border Force targeting bad employers underpaying sponsored migrant workers

30 November 2019: The Australian Border Force (ABF) has lately intensified its enforcement activities to target fraudulent employers who bring temporary workers from overseas and then exploit the migrants by making them toil away in substandard work environment at much lower salaries.

As a result of these raids, some unscrupulous employers got heavily fined while some others lost their approval to sponsor workers from overseas.

Through these site visits, ABF is trying to ensure that sponsored temporary skilled visa holders receive their full entitlements just as any other Australian workers.

Investigators visited as many as 111 businesses across Australia in October alone, the federal agency said in a press release yesterday.

Employers in Australia are allowed to sponsor suitably temporary migrant workers to fill a position provided they demonstrate that they cannot not find an appropriately skilled Australian worker.

Some bogus employers however not only misuse this sponosorship facility provided by the Australian government, they also exploit the sponsored migrant workers mainly because some of them are unaware of their workplace rights such as the legal minimum wage, weekend and holiday loadings and leave entitlements.

“Workers on temporary visas are entitled to the same basic rights and protections as Australian citizens and permanent residents under applicable laws,” the ABF press release reads.

During the 100-plus site visits in October, a Melbourne workshop found itself in serious trouble when it got fined $18,900 for underpaying its temporary foreign workers.

“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,” said ABF Investigations Acting Commander Penny Spies.

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

Similarly, a Darwin restaurant was fined almost $19,000 for various offences including underpaying three sponsored temporary skilled visa holders while a cleaning company in Sydney’s south was fined $12,600 for the same offence, after underpaying one worker.

Being caught for any breach of sponsorship obligations could jeopardise an employer’s reputation in the community because once that happens their names appear in a public register maintained by the ABF.

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