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New Protections for Temporary Workers in Australia

New Protections for Temporary Workers in Australia

The Australian government recently approved the Migration Amendment (Strengthening Employer Compliance) Act 2024, which imposes stricter penalties on employers exploiting temporary workers, effective July 1, 2024. This regulation focuses on protecting temporary workers while discouraging employers from pressuring these workers to breach their work-related visa conditions.

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The work rights for temporary visa holders are specified under the Migration Act 1958 and Migration Regulations 1994, including limitations on work type, employment tenure with any one employer, and the work’s frequency. The Act also states that working in Australia without a visa or as an unlawful non-citizen is an offence.

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With some fines quadrupling, penalties have increased for employers who breach these laws. This legislation also introduces new offences and civil penalties for work-related arrangements that go beyond usual employment. These include actions such as accepting unsafe housing arrangements and surrendering a passport. These rules are intended to stop employers from pressuring or coercing non-citizens into making decisions that might compromise their immigration status or violate the terms of their visas.

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Moreover, the Act launched a “migrant worker sanction,” focusing on:

  • Employers who have violated specific provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009, or
  • Employers who have been guilty of work-related offences under the Migration Act.

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If an employer is subject to such sanctions, they could be deemed “prohibited employers,” which means that hiring more non-citizens would be illegal. While some sanctions may result in a prohibition of up to five or ten years, the most severe penalties, which are related to human trafficking and slavery, have no maximum prohibition period.


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In summary, this legislative update highlights the commitment of the Australian government to eliminate temporary workers’ exploitation while ensuring employers obey immigration and labour laws. Furthermore, it suggests employers be vigilant and informed regarding their obligations under Australian immigration law.

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