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To: Ministers for Immigration and Home Affairs
Exploited Worker Guarantee - Protection Against Cancellation
The ever-present risk of visa cancellation creates a fundamental imbalance of power between migrant workers and their employers. Too often, employers threaten migrant workers that they will get their visas cancelled to prevent them raising legitimate workplace issues like wage theft or harassment.
Migrant workers must be provided a guarantee against visa cancellation if they take action against their employers for a breach of workplace laws. It should never be possible for an employer to retaliate by causing the cancellation of a worker’s visa. And is should never be acceptable for a migrant worker to risk their visa in order to speak up about what happens at work.
Why is this important?
Repeated studies have shown that migrant workers are being systemically paid less than their minimum entitlements. There is ample evidence that fear of visa cancellation is one of the key factors that prevents temporary visa-holders from acting on their rights at work, even if they know they are being mistreated.
Only by removing the threat of visa cancellation can migrant workers enjoy the same rights and protections as everyone else who works in Australia. As part of its migration review, the Federal Government should introduce a strong, predictable, and clear guarantee that a worker's visa will not be cancelled where the worker has been subjected to workplace exploitation.