A Stern Warning to All Employer Sponsors – Exploitation of Workers Will Not Be Tolerated

A Stern Warning to All Employer Sponsors – Exploitation of Workers Will Not Be Tolerated


New Laws to take effect on 1 July 2024


Earlier this year, the Government passed the Migration Amendment (Strengthening Employer Compliance) Act 2024 (“the Act”) which aims to:


·       strengthen compliance requirements of employers;

·       impose new penalties, including criminal provisions targeting employer sponsors who exploit their foreigner workers; and

·       offer greater protection for temporary workers from falling victim to exploitations. 


What are the new changes? 


The Act introduces several key features:


·       Stronger sanctions for employer breaches – employers who are found to have coerced their foreign workers to work in arrangements that violate the conditions of their visa, may be imposed with significant fines (360 penalty units – currently $112,680) or imprisonment of up to 2 years, or both.


·       Black-list employers – Employers who have been sanctioned for their sponsorship breaches may be prohibited for a period of time from employing further foreign workers.


·       Published list of black-listed or prohibited employers – The names of companies and businesses that have been sanctioned will be publicly named on the Department of Home Affair’s website, in hopes that a tarnished reputation would act as a further deterrent.


·       Greater powers for authorised officers – An increased authority to issue enforceable undertaking and compliance notices for breaches by the Department of Home Affairs aims to capture greater number of employers breaching their obligations with mechanisms to resolve compliance disputes.  


·       Encouraging a culture of reporting by foreign workers – With the removal of a provision which previously made it an offence for foreign workers to breach their work conditions, the fear of reprimand is significantly reduced, and a culture of reporting exploiting practices of sponsoring employers is encouraged.


Action points for Employer Sponsors


The Government’s forthcoming changes are a stern reminder for employers, and in particular, employers who sponsor foreign workers, to evaluate and update their current policies and processes to ensure that they full comply with their sponsorship obligations. 


Here are some steps to take now:


·       Familiarise yourself with your sponsorship obligations.  Need a reminder?  The following are links which sets out the various sponsorship obligations, depending on the visa program:


o   Standard Business Sponsor (Subclass 482 and 494)

o   Temporary Activities Sponsor (Subclass 403, 407 or 408)


·       Do not coerce, or act in any way which appears to be pressuring your foreign workers to breach their visa conditions.  The following are examples which could be viewed as coercive behaviour:

o   Threatening to cancel or revoke a sponsorship of a visa

o   Withholding wages or entitlements 

o   Forcing to work extra hours beyond visa conditions


·       Be meticulous with your record-keeping to actively demonstrate compliance.  The Department relies on documentation provided by you to substantiate your compliance with your sponsorship obligations.

o   Keep a copy of your foreigner workers’ visa notices and in particular, any visa conditions

o   Ensure your foreign workers have the necessary work entitlements to perform their duties

o   Keep record of employment dates, paid and unpaid leave requests


·       Rectify non-compliance immediately – Audit current practices and review employment conditions for foreign workers, and make right any non-compliance and potential breaches before compliance notices are issued.  Resolving breaches quickly may demonstrate an ongoing commitment to compliance.




At Agile Legal, we are a team of specialised immigration lawyers who have successfully assisted many organisations in sponsoring overseas workers including post-sponsorship matters relating to non-compliance of sponsorship obligations.


As the migration process is complicated, please do not hesitate to contact us at info@agilelegal.com.au for your immigration enquiries.


We are here to help.

Who are we?

Agile Legal Consulting is a boutique law firm in the heart of Melbourne CBD.  We support and assist our clients in all areas of law, with a specialisation in immigration law, commercial law, and property law. 

Led by our Accredited Immigration Law Specialist – Jensen Ma (LPN 5511737), together with a dedicated immigration law team with over 60 years of collective experience, we are passionate about providing our clients with comprehensive, client-focused solutions. 

Our multi-lingual lawyers offer assistance on a broad spectrum of immigration matters.  Come speak to us in English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean or Bahasa Melayu – we are always available to answer your questions.