Select Page

Strengthening of Australia’s employer sanctions regime to protect foreign workers

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Migration

From 1 July 2024 a number of new sanctions will come into force to further protect foreign workers from exploitation in Australia’s labour market. These amendments will come into force as part of the Migration Amendment (Strengthening Employer Compliance) Act 2024 (‘the Act’). The major features of the Act include:

  1. Introduction of new offences

It will be a criminal offence for a person (or company) to unduly influences, pressures or coerces a foreign national to:

  • breach a work-related condition of their visa; OR
  • accept an exploitative work arrangement to meet a work-related condition of their visa


  1. Removal of criminal offence – breaching a work visa condition

In acknowledgment of the power imbalance between employers and employees, this Act also repeals section 235 of the Migration Act (Cth). Section 235 of the Migration Act currently makes it illegal for a foreign national to breach a work-related visa condition. Research has found that the use of this law was keeping foreign workers from disclosing exploitative behaviour by employers for fear of also being charged with an offence.

  1. Prohibition from employing foreign nationals and prohibited employer register.

The Minister of Home Affairs will have the power to prohibit certain employers from employing any additional foreign nationals if they have received a ‘migration worker sanction’. The scope and nature of a ‘migration worker sanction’ is extensive and can include findings of guilt under the Fair Work Act and Criminal Code.

Once an employer is prohibited from employing foreign nationals its details will also be published in a prohibited employer register. This list will include the following information:

  • company ABN OR any other information that is necessary to identify the employer;
  • the reasons for making the declaration
  • the period for which the declaration has effect.

Being prohibited from employing foreign nationals could create significant labour shortages for employers. Not to mention, the public relationship issues with being listed as a prohibited employer. We strongly encourage employers to seek advice before 1 July to ensure their compliance practices meet the new requirements.

If you would like to discuss an audit of your workplace to ensure compliance with the new Act please reach out to Nevett Ford Lawyers by phone at 03 9614 7111 or by email at melbourne@nevettford.com.au. Our staff are able to assist to discuss the implications of the new 1 July amendments and how best to plan for these.