Taskforce Cadena

Taskforce Cadena aims to detect and disrupt criminal syndicates that profit from the criminal exploitation of foreign workers and Australias migration system.

These activities can have lasting negative impacts on individuals and Australian communities. They affect vulnerable visa holders, and legitimate businesses. They also put Australia's reputation, and the reputation of certain industries, at risk.

We seek to maximise enforcement outcomes by collaborating with the:

  • Fair Work Ombudsman
  • Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Securities and Investments Commission
  • Australian Taxation Office
  • Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
  • state and territory police

We are also part of Taskforce Phoenix. This is a whole-of-government initiative to stop illegal phoenix activity.

Signs of worker exploitation

Signs that an employer or company is exploiting workers include:

  • the employer or company can seriously undercut competitors
  • workers are underpaid or paid irregularly
  • workers appear to be living in poor conditions
  • workers seem afraid or anxious
  • workers have few days off and work excessive hours

We also look out for employers or company owners whose lifestyle far exceeds their income.

Who to contact

If you know someone who might be involved in visa fraud or illegal work:

Information for employers

You are responsible for ensuring that your workers can legally work in Australia. Even if a contractor or labour hire company has referred them, you should still confirm it yourself.

You may be audited to check that you have taken action to ensure your employee or employees are allowed to work. If you can show evidence of this action, you may be exempt from penalties.

This could include:

  • proof of using VEVO to check visa details and permissions
  • requests for workers from overseas to have proper permission to work

Requests could include clauses in a contract, or an exchange of letters. You should do this if another person or entity is finding workers for you. You may use our clauses for your contracts and exchange of letters to tell the labour hire or referral company that you want workers who are legally allowed to work here.

Penalties for engaging illegal workers

Penalties for engaging illegal workers can be severe.

They range from a warning, to fines of more than AUD25,000 for individuals and AUD126,000 per worker for corporations. Serious offences can lead to imprisonment.

In cases of visa fraud, these penalties may apply:

  • up to 10 years imprisonment
  • up to AUD210,000 fine for individuals
  • up to AUD1,050,000 fine for corporations

You are responsible for ensuring that all your workers receive their minimum entitlements. These are set out in the Fair Work Act 2009 and are not negotiable.

Information for employees

Be careful of employers and labour hire contractors that:

  • offer a job that requires an upfront payment or back payment of pay
  • promise permanent residence in Australia
  • refuse to provide minimum workplace pay and conditions
  • threaten to cancel a visa or take travel documents
  • force you to perform duties that make you uncomfortable

Fair Work Ombudsman has information about minimum pay and conditions, and your employer’s obligations.