Increased protection for vulnerable workers

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Federal Member for Hinkler Keith Pitt said that a re-elected Coalition Government will strengthen existing workplace laws to ensure better protections for workers and to stamp out exploitation by unscrupulous employers.

Mr Pitt said that the Coalition’s focus on jobs and growth will be complemented by increased safeguards for vulnerable workers who have been let down in recent times as a result of blatant non-compliance with workplace laws by employers across a number of industries and in many cases, multinational corporations who ignore their obligations under Australian laws.

The Coalition Government announced that, if re-elected, stronger protections for vulnerable workers will be delivered by:

  • increasing the penalties that apply to employers who underpay workers and who fail to keep proper employment records. A new higher penalty category of ‘serious contraventions’ will be introduced, and will apply to any employer that has intentionally ripped off workers, regardless of the employer’s size

  • introducing new offence provisions that capture franchisors and parent companies who fail to deal with exploitation by their franchisees

  • delivering a $20 million funding increase for the capabilities and workforce of the Fair Work Ombudsman

  • strengthening the powers of the Fair Work Ombudsman so that it can more effectively deal with employers who intentionally exploit workers by compelling them to produce information and answer questions

  • establishing a Migrant Workers Taskforce in the Fair Work Ombudsman that will target employers who exploit migrant workers.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

“The Coalition will provide stronger and more effective laws to help prevent a recurrence of the shocking stories of exploitation that we have witnessed in recent times,” he said.

Mr Pitt said this commitment by the Coalition Government would build on the work done by Taskforce Cadena which was established in June 2015.

“Taskforce Cadena’s aim is to ensure that seasonal workers are protected from unscrupulous labour hire operators,” he said.

“This issue is not confined to the horticulture sector or the Bundaberg region. That’s why I’m pleased Taskforce Cadena is operating nationwide, across a range of industries.”

Mr Pitt said the Coalition’s commitment will protect vulnerable workers and help ensure better workplaces in Australia.