Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs (Legislation Committee) for the inquiry into the Migration Amendment (Protecting Migrant Workers) Bill 2021 [Provisions]
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Summary of Recommendations
Recommendation 1. We recommend adding measures to promote migrant workers’ workplace rights to the Bill. Eliminating visa conditions that restrict one’s work rights should be prioritised.
Recommendation 2. Migrant workers should be protected from the possibility of being punished with adverse immigration consequences when their employer is found guilty of contraventions. Especially, when the employer’s standard business sponsorship approval is cancelled, the Government should grant their employees on employer sponsorship a replacement visa for the original duration of the sponsored visa or give them more time to find an alternate sponsoring employer.
Recommendation 3. We recommend adding measures to encourage and protect whistle blowers. The Department of Home Affairs and the Fair Work Ombudsman should prioritise reviewing the Assurance Protocol and strengthen safeguards for migrant workers who report their employer for migrant labour exploitation.
Recommendation 4. We recommend creating a new bridging visa with work rights to help regularise whistle blowers’ stay, when needed, until they complete ongoing legal processes or medical treatments. The visa should be regarded as a qualifying substantive visa when the whistle blower applies for another visa afterwards.
Recommendation 5. We recommend that the Department of Home Affairs collaborate with the Fair Work Ombudsman and trade unions to regularly monitor prohibited employers. Migrant workers who have been unknowingly engaged by a prohibited employer should be protected from any adverse immigration outcome owing to the engagement.
Recommendation 6. We recommend stipulating in the Act the principle that the standards under the Fair Work Act 2009 apply to every worker equally, both citizens and non-citizens, and that the Department of Home Affairs should provide information about workplace rights in community languages each time it issues a visa with work rights.