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Higher penalties coming up for employers ‘intentionally ripping off workers’

This image is for representation purpose only Source: Wikipedia

Australian Government today announced the formation of New Migrant Workers Taskforce that is aimed at ensuring that migrant workers in Australia are protected from exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Australian Government today announced the formation of New Migrant Workers Taskforce that is aimed at ensuring that migrant workers in Australia are protected from exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Under this new taskforce, a series of measures will be implemented to check that overseas workers and international students who are in Australia for study, work or visit are not exploited.

Government will increase penalties that apply to employers who underpay workers and who fail to keep proper employment records.

A new higher penalty category of ‘serious contraventions’ will be introduced, and  will apply  to any employer that has  intentionally ripped off workers, regardless of the employer’s size.

Professor Allan Fels AO will lead this new Migrant Workers Taskforce which will provide expert advice on measures that will deliver better protections for overseas workers.

Minister for Employment, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash said the Taskforce will bolster the Government’s efforts to crack down on employers seeking to take advantage of migrant workers and deliver better protections for all workers.

“A number of recent high-profile cases where vulnerable migrant workers have been underpaid and exploited at work have exposed unacceptable gaps in the system,” Minister Cash said.

“While the Government acknowledges that the majority of employers do the right thing by their employees, we will not tolerate exploitation in Australian workplaces.”

The exploitation of migrant workers affects a range of industries, and in recent cases it has become clear that some employers have blatantly ignored their responsibilities under Australian law.

Revelations of exploitation within some 7-ELEVEN franchises has highlighted the need for further protections for workers and higher penalties for those found to have breached workplace laws.

The Taskforce will monitor progress of 7-ELEVEN in rectifying its breaches but will also be tasked with identifying regulatory and compliance weaknesses that have led to such incidences of widespread exploitation.

Minister Cash said she is pleased the Taskforce will be chaired by Professor Allan Fels AO, with Dr David Cousins AM as De puty Chair for an 18-month term.

“Professor Fels’ experience in this area will be a valuable asset to the Taskforce, which is tasked with developing strategies across government to stamp out exploitation of vulnerable migrant workers,” Minister Cash said.

The Migrant Worker Taskforce measures include:

  • Increasing penalties that apply to employers who underpay workers and who fail to keep proper employment records. A new higher penalty category of ‘serious contraventions’ will be introduced, and  will apply  to any employer that has  intentionally ripped off workers, regardless of the employer’s size.
  • Introducing new provisions that capture franchisors who fail to deal with exploitation by their franchisees.
  • Delivering a $ 20 million funding increase for the capabilities and workforce of the Fair Work Ombudsman.
  • Strengthening the powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman so that it can more effectively deal with employers who intentionally exploit workers by compelling them to produce information and answer questions.

Source Australian Government