Immigration bill passes first reading

  • Michael Woodhouse

A bill to crack down on employers who exploit migrant workers and improve the effectiveness of our immigration system has passed its first reading in Parliament today.

“The Immigration Amendment Bill (No 2) forms part of a package of actions this Government is taking to address the exploitation of migrants. It follows changes in June to encourage victims of exploitation to come forward without fear of being penalised,” Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says.

“Unscrupulous employers not only harm their staff, but also gain an unfair competitive advantage over good employers competing for business.”

Under the Bill, employers who exploit migrant workers will face a jail sentence of up to seven years, a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both. Migrant employers could also face deportation if the offence was committed within 10 years of gaining residence.

“The Government is taking tough action to tackle the issue and send the message that migrant exploitation will not be tolerated in New Zealand.

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

“This is particularly important in the context of the government’s commitment to rebuilding Christchurch where immigration plays a key role in boosting the supply of workers required.”

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.

Minister Woodhouse’s first reading speech is available at: