What you need to know when employing people from overseas

18 August 2016

When hiring people from overseas, your business can benefit from unique skills and diverse cultural perspectives but it can sometimes be a tricky process to navigate. As an employer, you need to be aware of essential obligations and requirements. To help guide you through these, here are some tips for before and after you hire.

Before you hire

To avoid any accidental infringements or civil penalties it is important that you check that the people you want to employ have visas with work entitlements and that your business is able to meet hiring requirements.

1. Visa work entitlements

Did you know anyone who has a permanent visa, whether they were granted the visa in Australia or overseas, can work in Australia - this is of course subject to employment laws which apply to all working Australians. Other types of visas however can have work restrictions, such as:

  • not being able to work at all
  • working for a certain employer
  • working for a specific number of hours 
  • working for a specific time period.

The easiest way to check visa work entitlements is to use the Department of Immigration and Border protection, Visa Entitlement Verification Online (VEVO) system. With the candidates permission, VEVO will be able to let you know what type of visa they have and when it expires. To register for VEVO you can complete an online registration form or you can download the myVEVO app for free from the iTunes app store.

Alternatively you can also ask your job candidates to email their visa details directly from the VEVO website or the myVEVO app straight to you.

2. Requirements when hiring people with a visa 

To check what requirements your business needs to fulfil when hiring a person with a visa you can visit the Department of Immigration and Border Protection Employer Hub and take a look at the visa option tables.  These tables give you an overview of what type of visas are available to people from overseas who would like to work in Australia, whether your business will need to sponsor their visa, and other useful information. 

After you hire 

Now that you have hired it’s time to make sure your new employee is settling into their job. This can be through mentoring, re-examining your businesses communication practices or by looking into what translation services are available. It is also important to remember to explain workplace health and safety as well as to continue to check your new employees’ visa status over the course of their employment. 

1. Provide a mentor 

Mentoring can be an effective way to ensure that your new employee settles in well to their new position. Mentors can provide your new employee with support, explain day to day duties and manage their expectations. 

When choosing a mentor it can be beneficial to think about who in your business has good corporate knowledge, can provide effective feedback, has time to spend with a new employee and a genuine interest in mentoring.

2. Explain workplace health and safety

When your new employee starts work it is important to ensure that they fully understand workplace health and safety. 

Some key things to discuss may include what their responsibilities are as an employee, which workplace health and safety regulations your business must follow and how and who to report incidences, safety hazards or faulty machinery and equipment to. 

For more information on workplace health and safety visit the Safe Work Australia online assistance for small businesses page which directs you to resources for small business in each state or territory. 

3. Re-examine communication practices 

In 2010, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 5.2 million people aged 15 years or more living in Australia were born overseas. With this in mind it is vital to make sure you can communicate effectively with your new employee, and that they can also communicate with their colleagues, clients and customers.

Effective communication will ensure that your new employee will have the skills to be a productive team member and can help to increase their job satisfaction. 

When re-examining your current communication practices, some useful things to think about include:

  • Do you give practical demonstrations of duties and tasks?
  • Can you provide instruction in writing and pictures?
  • Do you currently use jargon and colloquialisms?
  • Can you offer translating and interpreting services? 

4. Continue to check visa details 

After you employ someone from overseas it is good business practice to check every three months that they still have permission to work in Australia. Visa details can be checked through VEVO at any period of the person’s employment. 

For more information, tips and resources on how best to engage, recruit and employ staff from overseas check out the Department of Immigration and Border Protection’s Employer Hub

Not looking to hire someone from overseas?

If you don’t think your business is able to meet the obligations for employing people from overseas, there are jobactive providers in over 1700 locations across Australia who can connect you with job-ready candidates in your local area.  

jobactive providers can screen and shortlist candidates for you, provide you and your new employee with a tailored package of post-placement support and provide you with access to a wage subsidy up to $10,000 if you employ an eligible job seeker.

Find your local jobactive provider today.