482/TSS sponsor obligations: Hospitality sector account for a third of sanctioned sponsors

It was previously reported there would be a register of sanctioned business sponsors (aka a shame list) after legislation was passed that required the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship, Migrant Services and Multicultural Affairs to publish certain details of businesses that have breached sponsor obligations under the old Subclass 457 – Temporary Work (Skilled) visa and now Subclass 482 – Temporary Skill Shortage visa regime.

That register is now publicly available for anyone to view on the Australian Border Force website. For each entry the register lists:

  • the sponsor’s legal name;

  • the sponsor’s trading name;

  • the State or Territory the sponsor is located;

  • the date the sanction was imposed;

  • the sponsor’s Australian Business Number (ABN);

  • the type of sanction;

  • the relevant regulation that was breached; and

  • particulars of the penalty.

The register reports as far back as 20 March 2015. In total 597 businesses were sanctioned from that date to 21 December 2018 with some listed as currently under review at the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), which is the first port of call should the sponsor want to dispute the findings that they breached their sponsor obligations.

Analysing the register is difficult as unless a laborious investigation on each sponsor’s legal or trading name is undertaken or it is plainly obviously who the sponsor is from the details provided, the specifics of each business such as their size and industry is not readily available.

That being said businesses operating in the hospitality sector seemed to have beared the brunt of the Department of Home Affairs’ (Home Affairs’) ire. Using key terms such as “restaurant”, “café”, “hotel”, “bar”, “lounge”, and the unequivocal names of certain dishes such as “pizza”, “curry”, and “biryani” among others, no less than 203 hospitality sponsors were sanctioned. Should this be correct, this represents a whopping one-third of all sponsors sanctioned in this period. Most appear to be local restaurants, however, one sanctioned sponsor is a prominent fine dining establishment.

Other observations include:

  • Beauty and hair salons, and motor vehicle servicing and repair businesses were notably represented, and would probably be the second and third most sanctioned industries with construction, and property services following them;

  • Many transport companies in NSW were sanctioned between March and May 2017; and

  • At least one multinational is listed.

Altogether these finding are not surprising. It is well known Home Affairs uses risk-tiering based on the size and turnover of the business to assess applications and it makes sense to do so for monitoring as well as resources must be efficiently allocated. Additionally food trade workers (chefs in particular according to the Department of Jobs and Small Business) and hospitality workers continue to be in short supply in Australia, which no doubt forces employers to consider overseas workers and utilise the 457/482 visa program.

It may well be that the list of sponsors sanctioned will only grow as since January 2019, Home Affairs has been able to use its data-matching agreement  with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to better target sponsors where there has been payment anomalies.

The register is a timely reminder for sponsors great and small to be mindful of their sponsor obligations and indeed their legal obligations when employing any non-citizen.