Thousands of people apply for skilled visas every year to live and work in Australia. This is a great way to start a new life in a perfect country that offers countless opportunities to educated and skilled individuals. As you might already know, skilled visa applicants must be sponsored by an eligible employer so that they can apply for their intended visa. We have already discussed the skilled visa holder’s obligations. In this article, we will discuss the obligations sponsors have toward their non-Australian employees. Stick with us and find out about the key sponsorship obligations for standard businesses in Australia.
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Why sponsorship obligation?
Protecting the sponsored employees from exploitation is the main purpose behind imposing obligations on businesses that employ foreign workforce. These obligations help the Department ensure that sponsoring businesses, as well as the sponsored workers, are acting fairly to each other. They are meant to ensure that:
- The sponsoring employees will not exploit the employees they have sponsored.
- The working conditions of sponsored employees meet Australian standards.
- All sponsoring businesses across the nation follow the same standardised requirements.
- Visa programs are being used for their right purpose, not for immigration purposes.
What are the key sponsorship obligations for Standard businesses?
To be considered a standard business sponsor, you must own a legally-established business that is fully operating. When this is confirmed, the following obligations will apply to your business.
Cooperating with inspectors
As a sponsor, you must ensure business inspectors that you are following the procedures and compliant with your responsibilities. Inspectors are appointed under Act 1958, and you must cooperate with them by:
- Allowing them to enter your premises
- Providing any documents they require
- Complying with any other requests they might have
Ensuring equivalent terms and conditions of employment
When you want to employ a visa holder, you must stick to the terms and conditions of employment. This means that:
- The annual income of those you employ must be the same or more than what had been stated on the nomination application.
- The employment conditions must not be less favorable than those of an equivalent Australian worker.
Paying employees’ travel costs
As an eligible sponsor, it is your duty to pay the necessary and reasonable travel costs of your sponsored employee and their sponsored family to leave Australia. This may apply to:
- Travel from the employee’s place in Australia to where they depart from Australia.
- Travel from Australia to the employees’ country.
Please keep in mind that you should pay the travel cost within 30 days of your employee’s request. You are responsible for travel costs once only. If your employee comes back to Australia and wants to leave Australia again for any reason, you don’t have to pay their costs. It is worth mentioning that if your employee is recognised as an unlawful non-citizen and hence has to leave Australia, or when he wants to relocate inside Australia, you must also pay his travel costs.
Paying all recruitment-related costs
Apart from being responsible for your employees’ travel costs, you also have to pay recruitment-related costs. This may include:
- Costs related to becoming an eligible sponsor
- Migration charges
- Costs related to a migration agent and nomination applications
- Recruitment agent charges
- Responding to candidates’ queries
- Outsourcing psychological testing, police checks, and background checks
- Interviewing, screening, shortlisting, and conducting reference checks of applicants.
- Traveling to interview the candidates
Keeping records of recruitment of TSS visa holders
You must maintain documentation proving that you have followed your sponsorship requirements. Every record must be retained in a format that can be reproduced, and some must allow for independent verification. Keep records of the following in addition to those required by other Australian government, state, or territory laws:
- Requests for payment of travel expenses for the employee and their family
- When and how you paid for your travel expenses, the amount you paid, and the person you paid it to
- tasks associated with the nominated occupation that were completed by the employee.
- Salary paid to the sponsored visa holder (unless they earn AUD250,000 or more)
- Money applied or dealt with on behalf of, or under the direction of, the employee (unless the sponsored visa holder earns AUD250,000 or more)
- Records of non-monetary benefits that the employee has received. Record the agreed-upon value as well as the time those benefits were provided (unless the sponsored visa holder earns AUD250,000 or more)
- the written employment contract under which you hire each employee
- how you are meeting your training obligations if you are running a business in Australia when the Department of Homeaffairs confirmed your standard business sponsorship or the terms and conditions of your standard business sponsorship approval were changed.
- All those records you should keep as party to a work agreement.
Providing information to the Department when necessary
Sometimes a department officer might request records from you, and you need to comply. Such records might include the following:
- Records must be kept under Commonwealth, state, or territory law.
- Records that you have to keep as a sponsor.
Sometimes such records are required by a department officer to check whether you comply with the sponsorship obligations. At other times, there is a need for administrative actions, and hence the Minister requires these records.
Not engaging in discriminatory recruitment practices
As a standard business sponsor, you may not engage in any discriminatory recruitment practices that might affect Australian citizens or other individuals. Therefore, when recruiting someone with a TSS or SESR visa, you must keep recruitment records to prove that you have not engaged in discriminatory recruitment practices.
Monitoring the kind of work the sponsored person completes
It is also mandatory to ensure that the sponsored employees only perform tasks related to the occupation they were nominated for. Therefore, when you nominate a visa holder for a certain occupation and then want him to work in a different occupation, he must apply for a new visa first and start working only after his visa is granted.
Violating any of these obligations might have certain consequences that are described below.
- You might be forbidden to sponsor other visa holders for a certain period of time.
- The Department may reject your application when you intend to sponsor other visa holders.
- All your sponsorship approvals might be canceled.
In some cases, you might be required to enter into an enforceable undertaking. An enforceable undertaking compels you to provide a written promise. In so doing, you must promise to take certain actions to show that you will not violate your sponsorship obligations again.
If you do not meet your sponsorship obligations, the Department may decide to issue an infringement notice of up to:
- AUD1,332 for every individual and AUD6,660 for bodies corporate per obligation breach for a first notice.
- AUD2,664 for individuals and AUD13,320 for bodies corporate per obligation breach for subsequent notices.
The Department may also apply to a court for a civil penalty order of up to AUD66,000 for a corporation and AUD13,320 for an individual for each failure.
The information provided above has been adapted from https://immi.homeaffairs.gov.au/ where you can find more complementary information. If you want to take the shortcut and learn about other specific details regarding Sponsorship obligations for standard businesses in Australia, you can contact Migrationdoor and receive consultation from our experienced migration agents.