All employers are bound by law to only employ legal workers in Australia.
This is regardless of whether workers are sourced directly, or through a contractor, or referrer (such as employment agency and labour hire supplier). This includes both paid and unpaid work. Employers may face penalties for engaging or referring an illegal worker even if they did not know the worker was not allowed to work in Australia.
Australian employers are expected to take reasonable steps, at reasonable times, to ensure they are not employing, referring, or contracting illegal workers. Employers who believe their worker is a foreign national should check that they do not have work restrictions on their visa. The preferred method of checking visa details is to register for our free, online system Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO). Alternatively, employers and referrers can ask their worker to send their visa details directly using VEVO Email.
Who is a legal worker?
Legal workers are Australian citizens, permanent residents and New Zealand citizens. Some visa holders are also legal workers.
Not all visas allow people to work. Some Australian visas have work restrictions which may include not being able to work at all or only being able to work with a certain employer or a specific number of hours.
Foreign nationals who don’t have a valid visa are not allowed to work in Australia. This might include a person whose visa has expired or been cancelled.
Proof of Australian citizenship/permanent resident status
A single check confirming citizenship or permanent resident status at the time of employment is all that is required.
To confirm Australian or New Zealand citizenship an employer can sight:
- Australian or New Zealand passport
- Australian birth certificate and a form of photo identification
- evidence of Australian citizenship and form of photo identification
- certificate of Status for New Zealand citizens in Australia and a form of photo identification.
To confirm permanent resident status, an employer can sight:
- certificate of permanent resident status and a form of photo identification
- a passport issued by the government of another country along with a check using Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO)
In the absence of a form of government-issued photo identification, an employer might choose to sight as many of the following supporting documents considered necessary to confirm identity:
- confirmation of enrolment to vote in Australian state or federal elections
- Medicare card
- driver’s licence/taxi license
- tax file number
- references from previous employers
- tenancy agreements or home ownership details
- tertiary qualifications certificate
- trade certificate
- change of name certificates (if applicable)
Note: The above documents do not provide evidence of permission to work.