Migrant report makes big calls
A review has called for jail time for employers who exploit migrant workers.
The review of regulations and protections for foreign workers has found that wage underpayment is “widespread” and “entrenched”, with around half of Australia's 880,000 migrant workers potentially being underpaid.
Industrial Relations Minister Kelly O' Dwyer has accepted, in principle, all 22 recommendations from the Migrant Workers' Taskforce report.
Recommendations include strengthening legislation to provide better protections for workers, improving the availability and accessibility of information about workplace rights, ensuring the Fair Work Ombudsmen (FWO) is adequately resourced, and introducing a new national regulatory scheme to provide better oversight of the labour hire industry.
The report says the “problem of wage underpayment is widespread and has become more entrenched over time”.
“Wage exploitation of temporary migrants offends our national values of fairness,” the report argued.
“It has potential to undermine our national reputation as a place for international students to undertake their studies and may discourage working holiday makers from filling essential gaps in the agricultural workforce.”
The taskforce also called for the FWO to be given the same information-gathering powers as other regulators like the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
It also says the FWO should consider changing its name to boost its profile.
“The evidence now suggests that the organisation is not well known or understood,” the report said.
“Re-naming the organisation would enhance awareness of the workplace regulator which would boost its effectiveness in preventing wage exploitation.”