A new Bill has been introduced into the Senate that sets out a new framework to better protect temporary overseas workers in Australia.
The Migration Legislation Amendment (Worker Protection) Bill 2008 will strengthen the integrity of temporary working visa arrangements including the Subclass 457 visa program which in 2007-08 saw almost 60 000 visas granted to overseas workers.
The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, will today (Wednesday) introduce a Bill into the Senate that sets out a new framework.
The amendments proposed in the Bill outline four main measures to protect overseas workers from exploitation. These measures provide for expanded powers to monitor and investigate possible non-compliance by sponsors; the introduction of penalties for employers found in breach of their obligations, improved information sharing across all levels of government, and better defined sponsorship obligations for employers and other sponsors.
The new laws will enable specially trained officers with investigative powers to monitor workplaces and conduct site visits to determine whether employers are complying with the redefined sponsorship obligations. The powers will be similar to the powers of workplace inspectors under the Workplace Relations Act 1996.
Fines of up to $33 000 are proposed for employers found in breach of the obligations in the Migration Regulations.
The department will retain the ability to cancel an employer’s approval as a sponsor or bar them from making applications for approval as a sponsor for a period of time.