Migrant workers in Australia: Fair Work Ombudsman resources
Migrants and people holding visas can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation in the workplace, due to the precariousness of their situations. Australia’s Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) has developed new resources to help them avoid being mistreated by their employers. These include:
- reporting protocol to encourage exploited visa holders to seek assistance
- an app that makes it easy to record hours of work, and
- language resources to help migrants understand the Australian workplace.
Reporting Protocol for exploited migrant workers
In cases of exploitation at work, people holding visas have a right to go to Government agencies for help. However, they may be hesitant to do this due to cultural barriers, or concerns about the status of their visa.
To support these workers and encourage them to seek help, the FWO has made a new agreement with the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). This protocol ensures that a person’s temporary visa will not be cancelled if they:
- are entitled to work as part of their visa
- believe they have been exploited at work
- have reported their circumstances to the FWO
- commit to abiding by visa conditions in the future, and
- there is no other reason for cancelling the visa.
The FWO is aware that no one initiative will solve the problem for good. However, they are hopeful that this protocol will “go a long way to better tackling instances of deliberate and systemic non-compliance”.
More information is available on the FWO’s website under Visa Holders and Migrants.
‘Record My Hours’ app
The FWO has released a new app to help workers easily keep track of their hours. They designed the “Record My Hours” app with migrant workers in mind, as a guard against exploitation. If a worker is concerned that they are not being paid fully, they can use the data from the app as documentation.
To use the app, a worker must simply download it to their smartphone and set their work location. Then, the app automatically records when they start and finish work, based on their location. ‘Record My Hours’ is free to download, and is available in 18 different languages.
Newly Translated Web Content
The FWO has recently published 77 pages of newly translated web content, with information in 30 languages. This is intended to help migrant workers understand their rights in the Australian workplace. It includes information about:
- payment for work
- holidays and taking time off
- parental leave, and
- ending employment.
The full translated content is listed on the Language Help page of the FWO website.
Animated Language Storyboards
Finally, the FWO has created six animated storyboards to help migrant workers understand the basics of the Australian workplace system. The storyboards use images to explain the fundamentals to people who may not share a common language. The FWO collaborated with the migrant worker community while developing the storyboards, to make sure that they are useful and informative.
The storyboard topics include:
- “The FWO is here to help you”
- “You must be paid for the work you do”
- “Everyone has the same workplace rights in Australia”
- “Employers are expected to comply with workplace laws”
- Why do people seeking asylum need true information about working in Australia?
- Fair Work in Australia
- Some important information about tax and the ATO
- Working as a small business in Australia
- Difference between working in a ‘tax job’ and a ‘cash in hand’ job.
- Workcover insurance and income protection insurance.
The storyboards are available in English, Chinese, Korean, Hindi.