Australian Border Force enforcement action against Pie Face

Earlier this week the fast food business Pie Face was raided by immigration officials following reports of exploitation of foreign workers.

What was the issue?

The raid was triggered by a tip-off regarding the underpayment of a group of 457 visa workers. The surprise visit on Monday was part of an integrity and compliance operation by the DIBP and it is likely accounting data including wage payments were seized.

Australian Border Force is the new enforcement arm of Department of Immigration taking a proactive approach to immigration compliance

Raids are forming part of the new culture of proactive enforcement

What are the obligations of a sponsoring employer?

457 visa sponsors have a number of obligations, including:

  • Ensuring visa holders earn their guaranteed earnings each year (as stated on the 457 visa);
  • Keeping certain records, including third-party verifiable records of salaries to 457 visa holders; and
  • Notifying the DIBP of certain events, including cessation of employment of 457 visa holders within 28 calendar days.

New data sharing arrangements between the ATO and DIBP  has led to an increase in the number of enforcement operations operations against sponsoring employers to ensure they are meeting their sponsorship obligations.

Rise in enforcement action

This is the latest in a string of enforcement action taken by the Department of Immigration and its new enforcement arm Australia Border Force is a sign of more to come.

Earlier in August 2015, Australia Post was investigated by the Australian Federal Police ain relation to allegations one of its contractors was bringing overseas students to Australia on the promise of a working visa or permanent residency, and then subcontracting them to Australia Post to sort and deliver packages for sub-award wages.

In April 2015, a Darwin hospitality operation was fined $175,000 for underpaying 10 Filipino workers and forging documents to conceal breaches of their visa conditions.

Lessons for employers

This latest enforcement action is a reminder for all sponsoring employers of the importance of complying with their obligations under their sponsorship agreement with the DIBP and fair work laws.  Failure to provide correct work conditions for 457 visa workers can result in costly and public enforcement action, significant penalties and fines and ban from sponsoring workers in future.

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