14 September 2009

Immigration laws to protect workers on Australia visa effective today

New immigration laws protecting the rights of temporary overseas workers on an Australian skilled visa come into effect today.

Australia visa

New laws that come into effect today will protect the rights and wages of Australia visa holders.

The new laws ensure that Australian wages and conditions are not undermined and that those working on an Australian visa are paid the same market rates as Australian workers. 

The laws require that all new workers on Skilled Temporary Business (subclass 457) Australian  visas must be paid market salary rates, and employers currently paying less than the market salary rate to existing subclass 457 visa holders  will have until 1 January 2010 to commence paying market rates.

Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans announced that a key provision in the new laws will enable the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to disclose information to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship  to ensure the correct salary levels are being paid to Australian visa holders.

Information will also be shared with other enforcement bodies including the Fair Work Ombudsman and occupational health and safety agencies.

Earlier this year, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) and the Fair Work Ombudsman recovered more than $8000 in back-pay owed to two overseas workers employed in the WA Goldfields on subclass 457 visas.

Senator Evans said in a statement that the sharing of information among DIAC, the ATO, Fair Work Ombudsman and occupational health and safety agencies will act as an effective deterrent to rogue employers and ensure that instances of unfair or unsafe treatment of temporary skilled workers on Australian visas come to light quickly.

Penalties for employers found in breach of the obligations in the Migration Regulations are high.

 The Australian Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with their Australia visa applications.

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