The Australian Government today announced a six-month extension of the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce so that it can continue its important work to protect migrant workers in Australia from workplace exploitation.
The Taskforce has made a number of announcements to date, including:
- a new reporting protocol between the Department of Home Affairs and the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure that temporary visa holders are able to report workplace exploitation without fear of their visa being cancelled
- the Fair Work Ombudsman’s In-Language Anonymous Report tool which lets workers anonymously report workplace issues in their own language
- better government sharing through a new cross-agency data analytics working group led by the ATO.
The Taskforce has provided input to the work of the Black Economy Taskforce, the Phoenix Taskforce and the Labour Exploitation Working Group.
It will continue to consult widely on suitable policy responses and remedies to the issue of workplace exploitation, and will provide a final report with recommendations to the Government in late 2018.
The extension was requested by the Chair of the Taskforce, Professor Allan Fels AO, to allow the Taskforce to continue to explore whole-of-government reforms that will deliver better protections for overseas workers.
Minister for Jobs and Innovation, Michaelia Cash, said the Taskforce provided valuable advice to the Turnbull Government on the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Act 2017.
“The Government appreciated Professor Fels’ personal contribution to these legislative changes and his expertise in leading the work of the Taskforce,” Minister Cash said.
Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation, Craig Laundy, said the new protections which came into effect in September 2017 reflect the Turnbull Government’s tough approach to tackling worker exploitation in Australia.
“A new penalty for serious contraventions involving deliberate and systematic underpayment of workers now applies. The penalty includes provisions that hold culpable franchisors and holding companies accountable for underpayments and ensure the regulator has the power to swiftly prosecute such behaviour.”
Other measures taken by the Government to protect vulnerable workers include:
- delivering a $20.1 million funding increase for the capability and workforce of the Fair Work Ombudsman
- establishing Taskforce Cadena, which targets and disrupts the criminals responsible for organised visa fraud, illegal work and the exploitation of foreign workers.