Immigration minister warns businesses about exploiting migrant workers

'This behaviour has been tolerated for far too long'

Immigration minister warns businesses about exploiting migrant workers

Minister for immigration and multicultural affairs Andrew Giles is warning businesses about exploiting migrant workers.

During a Law Council of Australia conference, Giles delivered a speech where he pointed out that the exploitation of migrant workers was harmful to the entirety of the workforce, and such behaviour had been tolerated for too long, according to the Mandarin.

Giles further explained that policies regarding workplace relations and immigration needed to work hand in hand to address the ongoing issue of temporary migrant workers being exploited by businesses.

Reforms mean stronger enforcement around migrant worker rules

With the recent reforms to industrial relations, the government can now make it a criminal offence for employers to force or unduly influence migrant workers to work in breach of their visa conditions.

The law also grants the minister authority to bar employers from hiring any migrant workers on temporary visas if they are found guilty of exploitation.

Giles stated in the Mandarin article that he is set to write to employers who are liable for the prohibition and will be asking them why they should not be prohibited from hiring employees who have temporary visas. These employers will be given a prohibition notice and have their names put up on the Department of Home Affairs website.

“It is critical that workplace laws provide the same entitlements and protections for all workers, regardless of their immigration status; and that immigration policies address both the misuse of migration rules to exploit temporary migrants and migration-related barriers to resolving workplace exploitation,” the minister said in the report.

In order to help migrant workers who may have trouble in divulging details about how they are being exploited, the government has proposed two pilot programs: a formal protection against visa cancellation and the concept of a workplace justice visa which will allow temporary migrants to stay in Australia if they are seeking the resolution of a dispute in the workplace, according to the Mandarin report.

“The pilots will promote the ability for people to speak up by removing their fear of having their visa cancelled if they have breached a visa condition related to their work – if they were forced to breach that condition by an employer chasing profit at the expense of treating people lawfully,” said Giles.

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