Release type: Media Release


Better protections for clothing industry outworkers


The Hon Bill Shorten MP
Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, Financial Services and Superannuation


Some of Australia’s most vulnerable workers will benefit from greater workplace protections from tomorrow.

Minister for Workplace Relations Bill Shorten said the improved conditions for outworkers in the textile, clothing and footwear (TCF) industry – most of them women –deliver nationally consistent rights and legal protections for the first time.

“The measures coming into force on 1 July provide a uniform approach to regulation for outworkers and greatly reduce the chance of them being exploited by employers,” Mr Shorten said.

“These protections go a long way to ensuring that vulnerable workers in the TCF industry receive fair and decent working conditions.”

The changes in the Fair Work Amendment (Textile, Clothing and Footwear Industry) Act 2011, which passed federal parliament in March, extend the operation of most aspects of the Fair Work Act to TCF contract outworkers and include:

  • an effective mechanism to enable TCF outworkers to recover unpaid amounts up the supply chain;
  • addressing a previous limitation on right of entry into premises operating under sweatshop conditions; and
  • allowing for a TCF outworker code of practice to be issued.

Mr Shorten said the measures will make it easier for the Fair Work Ombudsman to identify businesses that engage outworkers and investigate breaches of the Fair Work Act and the TCF award.

“These changes will also improve the ability to identify sweatshops and help workers experiencing unacceptable conditions to receive what is justly theirs,” he said.

“Employers who do the right thing have nothing to fear from these laws. Only those who exploit outworkers by forcing them to work in sweatshop conditions and taking advantage of the vulnerable position of migrant workers should be worried."

More information on the changes is available at