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As an employer, there are a number of benefits for your business in hiring resettled refugees as employees. This article will set out our tips and advice for employing refugees and what you should consider as an employer.

Give Refugees the Opportunity

The opportunity for consistent and fulfilling employment can make a significant contribution towards successful resettlement for refugees in Australia. To achieve this, employers must be willing to give refugees the opportunity to apply their strengths, skills and experience in an Australian workplace. It would be preferable to offer permanent positions but you might also want to consider offering alternative recruitment options at the beginning including work experience programs, internships or transitional roles.

Provide a Comprehensive Induction and Orientation

It is important to provide a comprehensive induction and orientation to new employees to ensure your policies are clearly communicated and understood from the outset. This is particularly relevant if this will be their first job in an Australian workplace. You could consider drafting your Employment Handbook in different languages, spending more time explaining business specific jargon and providing mentors for new employees that they can approach with questions.

Create a Supportive Team Environment

A supportive team environment can be invaluable for new employees when learning the practices of a new workplace. This is particularly relevant for employees from cultural backgrounds where respect for authority is highly regarded and they may be reluctant to approach their supervisor with questions or issues. In this situation, it would be beneficial for the employees to be able to approach another team member to assist them. You could consider having group lunches, activities or social events to encourage group participation and inclusion.

Be Flexible and Respectful

Any employee of yours, regardless of whether they are from a refugee background or not, is likely to have personal issues arise which can impact on their work. It is important to keep in mind that refugees are likely to be dealing with complex settlement issues alongside their work which could include visa applications, housing and transport as well as supporting other family members in the community or in their home country. They may also have a religious background which may require, for example, prayer throughout the day or absence from work for religious holidays.

You could consider operating flexibly in these situations, by offering time in lieu or different start or finish times, so that you are more likely to retain staff and encourage employee loyalty.

Treat all of your Employees Equally

It is important to treat all of your employees as equals and not to give preferential treatment to those with a refugee background. This could create disharmony in the workplace and it may even be the case that the refugees themselves do not want to be treated any differently to another employee. Nevertheless, you should recognise that there are significant barriers for refugees to find sustainable and meaningful employment. However, if you support their transition, you will find that they can bring a wealth of skills, experience and determination to your workplace.

If you have any questions about employment practices, get in touch with our Employment Lawyers on 1300 544 755 or send us a message.

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