Bill to tackle migrant exploitation introduced

  • Michael Woodhouse

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse today introduced a new Bill to Parliament that will crack down on employers who exploit migrant workers.

Under the Immigration Amendment Bill such employers will face a jail sentence of up to seven years, a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both. Exploitative employers who hold residence visas will also be liable for deportation if the offence was committed within 10 years of gaining residence.

Mr Woodhouse says the penalties reflect the seriousness of such offences and the tough action the Government is taking to tackle migrant exploitation.

“The fundamental and overriding principle is that migrant workers have the same employment rights and protections as all other workers in New Zealand,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“We are only too aware that some employers exploit their migrant workers by paying them less than the minimum wage or making them work excessive hours. Sadly, in many cases the employer is a migrant themselves and taking advantage of vulnerable people from their own community.

“This type of activity is illegal and will not be tolerated in New Zealand. This Bill represents further measures as we move to stamp out this abhorrent practice.”

The Immigration Amendment Bill forms part of a package to address migrant exploitation and follows policy changes in June that encourage victims of exploitation to come forward without fear of being penalised.

The Bill also extends the search powers of immigration officers so they can search an employer’s premises and talk to the people present to identify offending by employers. They will also be able to search for unlawful workers, check documents and ensure migrant employees are complying with the Act.