New Protections for Vulnerable Workers Introduced into Parliament

02 Mar 17

Nationals Member for Cowper Luke Hartsuyker has welcomed the introduction of legislation to provide better protection for vulnerable workers and tougher penalties for employers who deliberately underpay workers.

The Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017 was introduced into the House of Representatives yesterday morning.

“The Coalition gave a commitment before the 2016 election that we would introduce stronger protections for vulnerable workers. This legislation will make that promise law,” Mr Hartsuyker said.

“I think we were all horrified to learn of the widespread underpayment of staff by a number of major businesses in recent years.

“The legislation introduces larger penalties for serious and systemic breaches of the law, and expressly prohibits the ‘cashback’ demands made by some employers of their vulnerable workers.

“The Bill also gives the Fair Work Ombudsman additional powers to investigate alleged exploitation of vulnerable workers, and clarifies the law to make it harder for an employing entity or franchisor to pass off responsibility for serious breaches of employment law to franchisees.

“Penalties will also be increased for record-keeping failures, in response to some employers deliberately falsifying records to disguise underpayments.

“These new protections are in addition to changes already announced by the Government, including the Migrant Workers Taskforce headed by Professor Alan Fels, and an additional $20 million to boost the capability and capacity of the Fair Work Ombudsman.

“The increased penalties will not affect employers who make inadvertent mistakes or who take reasonable steps to deal with alleged breaches of the law. This Bill is about stopping those employers who knowingly and deliberately rip off their vulnerable employees.”

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