Australia “Strengthening Employer Compliance” to Take Effect July 1

Australia’s Strengthening Employer Compliance Act has introduced new laws to tackle migrant worker exploitation.

Starting from July 1, 2024, the new laws aim to:

  • reduce temporary migrant worker exploitation
  • increase employer compliance.
  • improve workplace justice outcomes.

There are 3 new work-related offenses that make it illegal for employers, including sponsors, and labour hire intermediaries to:

  • coerce or pressure a temporary visa holder to breach a work-related visa condition
  • coerce or pressure a non-citizen without a valid visa to accept or agree to a work-related arrangement
  • use a worker’s temporary visa status to exploit them in the workplace (including in relation to existing visa conditions and requirements to support future visa application).

The laws cover a range of work-related situations where exploitation might happen. These types of situations include, but are not limited to:

  • underpaying a migrant worker
  • pressuring a migrant worker to work more hours than allowed by their visa conditions
  • threatening to cancel a migrant worker’s visa (employers cannot cancel visas)
  • coercing a migrant worker to hand over their passport
  • coercing a migrant worker to engage in unwanted sexual acts
  • pressuring a migrant worker to accept inadequate living conditions, such as poor housing, inadequate meals or access to running water and electricity.

The laws protect all migrant workers, no matter their visa status. This includes people who have a visa with work rights, an expired visa and those who are working in breach of their visa conditions. In Australia, workplace exploitation can be reported to either the Fair Work Ombudsman or Border Watch. Reports can be made anonymously.

Erickson Insights & Analysis

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to monitor developments and share updates as more news is available. Please contact your employer or EIG attorney if you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions.