Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse has today announced new measures to stop employers who breach immigration and employment law from recruiting migrant workers.
According to Mr Woodhouse there are around 150 employers who would be affected by the changes, which come into effect on 1 April this year.
“Migrant workers make a valuable contribution to our workforce and have the same rights as any other worker,” Mr Woodhouse says. “It is simply unacceptable that those employers who exploit migrant workers are still able to recruit from the international labour market and disadvantage those employers who do the right thing.
“That’s why the Government is introducing stand-down periods during which time employers who flout the law will be banned from recruiting further migrant workers.
“Employers who have incurred an employment standards-related penalty will be banned from recruiting migrant labour for defined stand-down periods ranging from six months to two years, depending on the severity of the case.”
The aged care sector is among those industries that are particularly reliant on migrant workers, along with hospitality, horticulture, viticulture and farming.
But Mr Woodhouse says it doesn’t follow that these industries are the worst offenders in the country.
Published guidelines and criteria will ensure that stand-down periods are applied fairly, consistently and transparently.
“Access to the international labour market is a privilege, not a right and if employers abuse that privilege by exploiting migrants or failing to comply with employment law, there will be consequences,” Mr Woodhouse says.
The Human Rights Commission has praised the move and says it hope the new rules are just the start.