To Protect Overseas Workers, Australian Communities Call For Tougher Penalties

18 Aug 2015


Immigration News

To protect the overseas workers in Australia, especially from the businesses which exploit them in terms of working hours as well as pay, the penalties are essential, in order to protect them, as per the draft report from productivity commission.

The report has recommended that harder penalties are essential, to those who exploit workers and that the Fair work Commision may need more resources to deal with it, part of the consultation process over workplace relations nationwide.

The report says, we find migrants are more vulnerable to exploitation than other employees, and this is especially true for illegally working migrants. These particular migrants either do not hold a valid visa to be in Australia, and have overstayed the term of their visa or are breaching a visa  condition by working.  Unlike, most other employees,  we tend to find, an unlawfully working migrant working, would not  complain, thus reducing the most avenue for discovering the exploitation. This may be essential, as more proportional penalties would help in deterring exploitation and also help in  further resourcing the Fair work Ombudsman to detect it.

As per the Migration Act for employing these migrants, it acts as a deterrent, the employers might still face the fines or imprisonment, but depending as to how these penalties are applied, an employer may still require to benefit from hiring as well as exploiting the migrant working in breach of their visa conditions. This is largely due to the fact, which an employer presently does not have to pay the difference between what the worker was actually paid and their minimum entitlement under the Fair work Act.

The Commission report states that, it want to ramp up the penalties against the businesses using the illegal workers and they impose a two part penalty on employers. This would mean that business found guilty of using the illegal workers, they would asked to pay a fine for breach of  Migration Act, including the fine amount equal to the amount the worker was underpaid while he/she was in  employment.

The report says, this would allow the Ombudsman to enhance the information sharing with other departments as well as conduct more investigation and audit.

Commissioner Peter Harris had added that any changes to the workplace relations framework needed to take into consideration the social impact of the report.

Changes to the workplace relations framework have recognized that it is not just about the Economics. There are community norms as well as ethical norms about the way in which nation treats its employee, said Harris.

The report states that overall, despite significant problems and occasional peculiarities, this nation’s  work place relations system is not very systemically dysfunctional, but it  does call for the Fair work Commission in order to be reformed.

The productivity commission is the Australian Govt, independent research as well as an advisory body on a range of economic, environmental and social issues which affect the welfare of the Australians. Its role, expressed most simply, it is to help governments to make better policies, in the long term of interest of the Australian community, its final report would be sent to the government by the end of November 2015.

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