It is a requirement of all businesses to employ legal workers. Legal workers are Australian citizens, permanent residents and non-citizens with Australian visas that allow them to work.
Some visas do not allow non-citizens to work while they are in Australia. People who no longer hold a valid visa are also not allowed to work in Australia.
Since 2007 it has been a criminal offence under the Migration Act to employ or refer a person who is not allowed to work in Australia. Legislative changes came into effect on 1 June 2013 creating new offences for officers of an organisation for employing non-Australian workers who are not entitled to work in Australia
The School’s Obligations
The obligations for the school set out in the Act are:
- The Migration Act 1958 and Migration Regulations 1994 prescribe certain actions which are steps businesses can take to confirm that non-citizens are allowed to work.
- The department only expects businesses to take reasonable steps, at reasonable times, to confirm that a non-citizen is allowed to work.
- All school employment contracts for teachers and assistants will contain a clause that requires the staff member to acknowledge that she/he holds a valid visa which allows her/him to work in Australia.
Furthermore the teacher must notify the school if there are any changes to her/his visa conditions.
Failure to meet these obligations can result in penalties for the school, and as a result the visa status of all new staff must be checked and recorded at the time that they commence employment with the school.
Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens
Sighting appropriate evidence of Australian citizenship, permanent residence or New Zealand citizenship is confirmation that a person can work. In most cases, this is straight-forward as most people have some form of government-issued photo identification.
Employers will be considered to have taken reasonable steps by sighting any of the following:
- an Australian or New Zealand passport; or
- a passport issued by the government of another country and checking they are still a permanent resident and therefore still allowed to work; or
- another form of photo identification issued by an Australian government agency and:
- an Australian or New Zealand birth certificate or
- an Australian or New Zealand citizenship certificate or
- confirmation of enrolment to vote in Australian state or federal elections.
Other valid documents can be found at http://www.immi.gov.au/legalworkers
Any sighted documents are to be kept in the employee’s record.
Using Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO)
VEVO is a secure and free government web-based service and is the preferred method of checking if non-citizens are allowed to work. VEVO checks can be used as evidence that reasonable steps have been taken to check that a non-citizen is allowed to work.
The school can also ask the visa holder to send their current visa entitlements directly from the department’s VEVO Email service. The visa holder can do this when they login to VEVO as a visa holder, using their date of birth, passport number and country, and one of the following reference types:
- visa transaction reference number
- visa grant number
- visa evidence number
This will provide the employer relevant information about workers, including:
- the type of visa the person holds
- when the visa was granted and when it will expire
- if they are allowed to work or if there are any conditions that may have been placed on the visa that will limit their capacity to work.
VEVO cannot confirm the identity of a person. Employers should always sight a passport or other identity document that was used by the visa holder for the VEVO check, to confirm their identity and ensure that it matches the details shown by the system.
The school will keep an electronic copy of the email
Notifications and Suspensions
If a teacher or assistant cannot produce evidence of a visa that permits her/him to work or the school reasonably believes that the person no longer holds a visa entitling them to work for the school then that person can be suspended from their role with immediate effect.