Discovering People

    Protect Your Business
    Don’t give a job to an illegal worker

    The government is concerned about the number of foreign citizens working in Australia without authority and is stepping up its efforts to curb abuse of Australia’s visa system by illegal workers.

    In 1999 the government commissioned an independent reference group to conduct a study on illegal employment in Australia called the Review of Illegal Workers in Australia. At the conclusion of the study the reference group made a number of recommendations which were accepted by the government and are now being implemented progressively.

    People found working without lawful authority are usually removed from Australia without notice. In today’s competitive market, your business cannot afford the disruption to production and the loss of valuable time caused by the sudden removal of your staff. At present if you are employing a foreign national with no work rights and you are aware that the person is an illegal worker, you are committing an offence under the Crimes Act which attracts a penalty of up to $10 000. The proposed changes to the Migration Act will make it possible to impose much heavier fines as well as to prosecute employers and labour suppliers of illegal workers.

    Who has work rights in Australia?

    As a general rule, only Australian citizens, Australian permanent residents i.e, migrants who are not yet Australian citizens – and New Zealand citizens who have entered Australia on valid passport, have unrestricted rights to employment. Any other person who wants to work in Australia must have a valid temporary visa allowing employment.

    How Do I Check Work Rights?

    The following documents can be accepted as evidence of right to work:

    • Australian birth certificate
    • Certificate of Australian citizenship
    • Australian or New Zealand passport
    • Evidence of permanent resident status
    • Temporary visa with entitlement to work

    The following documents alone are NOT proof of right to work:

    • Tax File number
    • Drivers licence
    • Medicare card
    • Bank Account
    • Referrals from employment agencies or labour suppliers

    Which Visas are Valid Working Visas?

    Visas with Restricted entitlement to work:

    • Temporary resident business/employment long /short stay visa
    • Bridging Visa
    • Working holiday maker visa
    • Student visa

    Visa Sub Classes

    Visa sub classes which have work rights:

    • Migrant or Resident Return visas
    • Refugee/Special Humanitarian Migrant visas(for example, fiancées)
    • Permanent Resident visas

    Visas with No entitlement to work:

    • Visitor/Tourist visas
    • Some bridging visas
    • Expired working holiday visa

    For more information on how to check work rights, how to interpret a visa or for information on the proposed sanctions legislation you can call the Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs on

    1800 040 070 or visit

    If you require any assistance filling your vacant positions, please feel free to contact our office on 9570 2411.         

    If you have any questions, human resources issues to discuss or would like to give any feedback in regards to this newsletter, please don't hesitate to email me -

    Michelle Novotny

    Managing Director

    Discovering People