Australia clamps down on rogue employers abusing visa system

by Ray Clancy on March 19, 2013

in Australia Immigration

457 visa defended

Australia clamps down on rogue employers abusing visa system

A new crackdown has been launched against rogue firms in Australia who employ overseas workers on 457 visas at less than minimum pay. It is part of a joint initiative by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship and the Fair Work Ombudsman and will see more checks being undertaken on suspected rogue employers.

The Fair Work Ombudsman will strengthen official efforts to deal with the misuse of 457 visas under new powers being granted by the government. The organisation, which is an independent agency responsible for workplace laws, will be able to monitor and enforce compliance with 457 visa conditions to ensure workers are employed in the right jobs and are receiving market salary rates. The activities of the FWO’s 300 inspectors will build on the 457 compliance work conducted by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

The FWO will now be empowered to make sure 457 visa holders are being paid at the market rates specified in their approved visa and that the job being done by the 457 visa holder matches the job title and description approved in their visa. FWO staff will also be able to immediately refer any suspicious activity to the DIAC investigation team for more detailed examination beyond these basic checks on pay, conditions, and jobs being done.

‘The 457 visa programme is vital for some regions and sectors where there are genuine skills shortages. Some employers, however, are seeking to misuse the programme to bring in temporary labour when local workers are available, to bring in relatives for jobs that do not exist, or to exploit vulnerable temporary workers. This undermines fairness in our workplaces and community confidence in our skilled migration programme,’ said Immigration Minister Brendan O’Connor.

‘This new initiative means workers on 457 visas are better protected, while ensuring the jobs of Australian workers are not undercut by abuse of the temporary skilled worker visa. The government is determined to protect jobs and training opportunities for Australian citizens and permanent residents, while also ensuring the rights of 457 workers are upheld,’ he explained.

Quote from AustraliaForum.com : “Anybody here who is applying for 457 visa? Does it really need to have an employer for you to apply on that kind of visa? Or your application will be open to all Australian states / employers? Thanks”

‘Regardless of your country of origin or your citizenship status, if you work in an Australian workplace you should have the benefit of a fair go and the rule of law. We will therefore not allow 457 visas to be abused in terms and conditions. Employers who do the right thing have nothing to fear from this change and there will be no additional compliance burden or red tape for them,’ he added.

In 2011/2012 the FWO dealt with 157 complaints in relation to working conditions for 457 visa holders, resulting in $207,871 being recouped for workers. ‘The FWO, however, is not currently empowered to undertake checks for compliance with specific visa conditions like the payment of market rates. These reforms will empower the FWO to do so,’ said Employment Minister Bill Shorten.

‘The government will continually evaluate the reforms as they roll out to ensure the integrity of the 457 visa scheme is maintained,’ he added.

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