Many industries rely on employing travellers, often foreign during their busy period. These industries include hospitality, retail, tourism operators, horticulture and viticulture industries. Many of these seasonal workers are on a temporary working Visa.
It is important to remember that under Australian law, every worker from overseas must have a valid Australian visa with work rights. Employers are responsible for checking all workers’ rights in Australia, even if they have been employed via an agency. Anyone who knowingly allows a person to work illegally is committing an offence under the Migration Act 1958.
People found working without a valid visa can be removed from the workplace immediately, so checking work entitlements makes good business sense. Even more importantly the employer, can also be fined if found to have knowingly or recklessly allowed an illegal worker to work.
Here are some tips if you are planning to hire an overseas employee.
Check their visa status
Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) allows you to check the work entitlements of all prospective workers. It is important to check this information before employment commences. This online service is available to all employers and labour hire companies. If you would like assistance with this process, we can assist.
Check the appropriate wage level
All seasonal and overseas workers with permission to work in Australia are entitled to the same pay, work conditions and superannuation benefits as Australian residents and citizens. This means that they are paid in accordance with the applicable Award for your industry, receive benefits such as superannuation and other entitlements in line with the 10 National Employment Standards.
If employing directly ensue you have compliant Employment Contracts and HR Policies
An employment contract is a legally binding agreement between two parties, the employer and the employee, and is designed to give both parties security and protection. Compliant employment contracts provide the employer with the security that the employee is fully aware of their obligations and has agreed to comply with the stated terms.
Also, employees need to have a clear, shared understanding of what is (and is not) acceptable behaviour. Setting clear and specific behavioural standards in the form of HR policies and procedures establishes a framework for identifying and addressing violations of those standards.
Labour hire – what employers need to know
Our experience of working with employers using labour hire companies to employee these types of workers has shown there is often:
- confusion about employer obligations, including specific agreements for the particular industry
- a lack of understanding about employer’s obligations when using a labour hire service.
Engaging workers through a third-party contractor such as a labour hire company can seem like an easy option. However, there are risks that employers need to manage.
Contracting out labour for a very low price may result in employees missing out on basic rights like minimum wages, penalties, loadings, overtime, allowances and leave.
It may also mean the contractor is engaging in what is known as “sham contracting” arrangements to avoid their legal responsibilities as an employer, in paying these minimum requirements.
Choosing the contractor who offers the lowest price without looking more closely and asking questions about how they can offer such low prices can:
- damage a business’s reputation and the reputation
- expose these employers to financial penalties if workplace laws are breached.
The Fair Work Ombudsman conducts regular workplace inspections, without prior notice, and will hold employers responsible for ensuring that people working in their organisations, whether directly employed or via a labour hire provider, are receiving the correct entitlements.
If using a labour hire company, it is important you ask the following questions:
- What is your ABN?
- How are you hiring your workers?
- If they are engaging employees by the piece, make sure they have written agreements in place
- Will you give them a Fair Work Information Statement?
- How are you going to pay your employees?
- How much?
- How often?
- Will you give them pay slips?
- Do you know which award will cover them?
Make sure you have a written contract with the labour hire contractor outlining what is expected of the contractor, and that they will employ seasonal workers in line with Australian workplace laws.
Don’t forget no matter how you hire your staff it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure all Australian laws and obligations are followed.
If you need any assistance with hiring of seasonal or overseas staff or appropriate contracts required, we would be happy to provide any assistance or advice required.
At myhronline we provide your business with HR support without the hassle. Our online shop offers easy access to a range of HR forms, documents, letters and templates for whatever your business needs.
For HR support without the hassle visit www.myhronline.com.au or to speak directly to our HR consultant call 1300 123 081.