Employer Obligations for Foreign Workers

The Australian economy is diverse and full of opportunities, making Australia an attractive destination for skilled professionals from all over the world, where they are looking for a new lease on life. This means that local companies always have a qualified workforce to fill job vacancies. However, with the recruitment of foreign workers comes specific obligations and responsibilities for employers.

Visa Compliance

One of the main obligations of the employer when hiring a foreign national, is to ensure strict compliance with Australia’s visa regulations. Employers should be aware of the various categories of visas and ensure that foreign workers hold the appropriate work visas. This includes understanding visa conditions, expiration dates, and any restrictions on employment rights. Failure to comply with visa requirements can result in severe consequences, including fines and potential legal action.

Below are some of the main examples of visas and work rights:


Visa TypeWork Rights
Employer-sponsored visas (subclasses 482 and 494)Full-time working rights restricted to the nominated occupation and the approved sponsor or employer.
Employer-sponsored visas (subclasses 186 and 187)Full-time working rights.
Skilled occupations visas (subclasses 189, 190, and 489)Full-time working rights.
Student visas (subclasses 500 and 485)500: The typical limited hours for subclass 500 are currently relaxed until further notice. Students can currently work full time per the Australian Government’s announcement. 485: Full-time working rights.
Working holiday visas (subclass 417)From 19 January 2022 to 31 December 2022, the typical 6 months work limitation has been temporarily relaxed.
Training visas (subclass 407)Workplace-based occupational training for at least 30 hours per week. No more than 30% of this can be classroom-based.
Partner visas (subclasses 801 and 820)Full-time working rights.
Bridging visas A and BSome working rights as previous visa or the work conditions imposed.
Visitor VisasNo working rights.





Employers should also be aware of employment laws, which are governed by Fair Work Australia, covering areas such as minimum wage, working conditions and dispute resolution. Employers must adhere to the rules of Fair Work Australia, ensuring fair and legal employment practices. This includes providing written employment contracts, respecting minimum wage laws, and offering adequate working conditions.


Health and Safety Standards
Employers have a legal obligation to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for all employees. This includes overseas workers who may be less familiar with Australian workplace safety regulations. Employers must provide the necessary training, protective equipment, and clear guidelines to ensure the well-being of workers.

Tax Compliance and Superannuation contributions
Employers must comply with Australia’s tax laws when compensating foreign workers. This involves deducting the correct amount of income tax, providing the necessary documentation, and staying informed of any changes in tax regulations that may affect both the employer and the employee. Along with tax laws, employers are required to contribute to the superannuation of their employees, including those of foreign workers. It is essential to understand the obligations of all employees.

Employer Nomination Scheme and Temporary Skill Shortage Visa Programs
For employers using visa programs such as ENS or TSS, it is vital to meet the specific requirements of these schemes. This includes providing proof of labour market testing, meeting minimum wage thresholds, and meeting sponsorship obligations.

As Australia continues to welcome international talent, employers must approach the employment of foreign workers with a thorough understanding of their obligations. By prioritizing visa compliance, fair work practices, health and safety standards, and other legal requirements, employers can create an environment that fosters the success and well-being of their diverse workforce. Navigating these obligations with diligence and care not only ensures legal compliance, but also contributes to a positive and inclusive workplace culture.

Written by Ross Ahmadzai

19 Dec, 2023

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