More than 140 unscrupulous employers have been sanctioned by the Australian Border Force (ABF) during the past financial year for exploiting migrant workers in Australian workplaces.
The figure was revealed as ABF officers around the country conducted an operational blitz throughout July, targeting businesses that sponsor migrant workers to uphold workplace rights, including pay, conditions and health and safety.
Employers who breached their sponsorship obligations can receive large fines, be barred from the opportunity to employ migrant workers in the future, and publically named on the Register of Sanctioned Sponsors on the ABF website.
ABF Acting Commander Vaughan Baxter said employers may also be referred for further investigation to ABF partner agencies, including the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Australian Tax Office.
“The practice of underpaying or exploiting migrant workers has no place in Australia and employers who are taking advantage of their migrant workers should know that it will cost you," A/g Commander Baxter said.
“The underpayment and exploitation of migrant workers is a long-standing problem that can significantly impact workers as well as damage Australia's international reputation."
A/g Commander Baxter said throughout July ABF officers in every state and territory have so far visited hundreds of workplaces to educate migrant workers and their employers about their workplace rights and obligations, to ensure they are doing the right thing.
“Migrant workers don't always have the family and networks here for help and advice when they are being treated unfairly at work," he said.
“We strongly encourage the reporting of worker exploitation, which can be made anonymously, as these reports can be crucial in shining the light on what is an insidious issue.
“If anyone is being exploited or is aware of someone who is being exploited in some way, you can be assured these concerns can be reported through Border Watch, regardless of your visa status."
Reports of possible migrant worker exploitation can be made to Border Watch and this can be done anonymously.
In FY2022-23, 148 businesses in total were published on the Register of Sanctioned Sponsors following detailed investigations by the ABF. A wide range of industries were represented, including the hospitality, automotive, construction and hairdressing sectors.
Sanctioned sponsors by state/territory in 2022-2023:
STATE No. of sanctioned business
WESTERN AUSTRALIA 40
SOUTH AUSTRALIA 16
Vision available here:
ABF Sponsor Monitoring Unit Visits
ABF Canberra Warrant