Immigration compliance has long been at the bottom of a long list of activities for HR professionals and in-house counsel in Australia. While finance, workplace health and safety and other areas of corporate compliance have become foreground issues in the last few decades, immigration has been seen as a background issue with little potential impact on the business.
This view is, however, incorrect. Immigration compliance laws pose the same level of risk to organisations operating in Australia as more well known areas. Reputational risk, financial loss or business litigation, and even criminal penalties for directors and key stakeholders are now prescribed for breaches of immigration laws.
The last decade has seen massive growth in temporary visa holders in the Australian workforce. Almost 1 million temporary visa holders now participate in the labour market and any time an employer seeks to engage an employee or contractor they must conduct immigration checks or be in breach of immigration laws.
How does the immigration compliance portal work?
All Australian organisations have an obligation to only employ staff with the right to work in Australia. In addition, organisations which are registered to sponsor overseas staff for employment under the 482 visa program, or as Temporary Activity sponsors, have additional obligations under immigration laws.
Businesses must ensure they comply with immigration laws or risk facing serious penalties including fines or even imprisonment. In some cases, immigration laws can affect company officers, including directors, CEOs, CFOs, and company secretaries. Some elements of the immigration regime operate on a strict liability basis, meaning that unless organisations take pro-active steps to prevent breach, there may be liability.
Hammond Taylor are a boutique immigration law firm and specialise in corporate immigration solutions. As part of our work we frequently see the gaps in business policy and process when it comes to immigration. We’ve developed a solution, to help businesses resolve these gaps and meet immigration obligations in a cost effective manner, with a minimum of fuss, and maximum efficiency.
Ensuring that your organisation is fully compliant with all immigration laws will:
- Minimise risk of financial harm
- Minimise risk of reputational damage
- Ensure company office bearers and directors are protected
Risk management & mitigation
Compliance with immigration laws is critical for organisations operating in Australia, as past scandals have shown. While penalties for non-compliance are significant, the risk of serious reputational damage is potentially even greater. Much like recent scandals about employee underpayments, there is a real risk that today’s business conduct could be tomorrow’s newspaper headlines.
Civil & Criminal Penalties
The immigration penalty regime includes substantial fines, as well as criminal offences, for breaches of the law. These fines can be up to $50,400 per breach and criminal penalties include up to 2 years’ imprisonment. In addition, the regime operates on a strict liability basis, meaning that organisations must take pro-active steps to prevent breach in order to have a defence. Executive officers may also be liable for organisational breaches.
While these penalties are serious, the ability of immigration non-compliance to garner media attention is perhaps most significant. Some organisations’ have become by-words for immigration abuse and scandal. It is hard to quantify the reputational damage that has occurred to these organisations as a result of a failure to ensure compliance among employees, contractors, stakeholders, and franchisees.
Our immigration toolkit is designed to provide organisations with critical staff training, certification and data management to manage risk.