New Law in New Zealand to Crackdown on Employers who Exploit Immigrants

by Ray Clancy on May 1, 2015

Employers who exploit migrant workers in New Zealand face tough new penalties under the country’s new Immigration Amendment Bill.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said that reports of migrant exploitation makes the new legislation vital. ‘It will make a big difference in protecting some of our most vulnerable workers,’ he added.

The new law means that migrant workers will have the same employment rights as all other workers in New Zealand. Employers who exploit temporary workers will face a jail sentence of up to seven years, a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both.

A new offence has also been introduced for employers who exploit legal temporary or unlawful workers and are reckless as to their immigration status. This offence carries a jail sentence of up to five years, a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both.

In addition, exploitative employers who hold residence visas will also be liable for deportation if the offence was committed within 10 years of gaining residence.

‘The tough penalties reflect the seriousness of such offences and reinforces that this Government does not tolerate employers who exploit migrant labour for their own commercial advantage and will do everything possible to stamp out this abhorrent practice,’ Woodhouse explained.

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 check documents and search for unlawful workers.

‘The Government has already made a number of changes to detect and address migrant exploitation that encourages victims of serious workplace exploitation to come forward and report that exploitation, and this new legislation complements those changes,’ Woodhouse said.

‘We are also spending more than $7 million over four years to boost the number of labour inspectors and immigration officers dealing with the Canterbury rebuild,’ he added.


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