Facing exploitation at work. Resources for migrant workers and visa holders

by Esther Lozano - Wednesday, 14 June 2017

The Fair Work Ombudsman is encouraging migrant workers and visa holders who might be exploited at work to seek help and report abusive practices through a range of resources.

 
Reporting exploitation protocol
 
Some visa holders have concerns about their visa status can sometimes inhibit their willingness to approach Government agencies. 
To support and encourage visa holders to get the help they need, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) have agreed that a person’s temporary visa will not be cancelled if they:
 
had an entitlement 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 basis for visa cancellation
 
The FWO knows that no one single initiative will eradicate exploitation of workers. However, it is hoped that encouraging vulnerable visa holders to come forward, and supporting them when they do, will go a long way to better tackling instances of deliberate and systemic non-compliance in Australia workplaces.
 
For more information about the FWO’s arrangements with DIBP, you can visit their website: 
https://www.fairwork.gov.au/find-help-for/visa-holders-and-migrants
 
Record My Hours App
 
The FWO has recently released a new app – Record My Hours – which assists workers to easily record and store their hours of work. The app is free to download, available for both Apple and Android, and was developed with young and migrant workers in mind – it’s available in 12 different languages and automatically detects the language settings on a user’s smartphone.
 
The main function of the app is that automatically records an employee’s work hours -so once a worker downloads the app to their smartphone and sets their workplace location, the app will automatically record when they start and finish work, based on their location. Alternatively, a worker can manually enter their work hours.
 
Only the user has access to their app data, unless they choose to share it. This means that if an issue arises at work, employees can retrieve the information in the app and use it as the basis for a discussion with their employer; or share the data with their preferred representative, or the FWO.
 
Importantly, the app can be a valuable back-up for workers if their employer fails to keep accurate records or their work hours. In these instances, if a worker is concerned that they are not being paid their correct entitlements, data from the app can be checked against the business’s records and if they differ the FWO would interrogate the accuracy of both pieces of information. 
For more information about the app, please visit: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/how-we-will-help/how-we-help-you/record-my-hours-app
 
New in-language web content
 
The FWO has recently published 77 pages of new translated website content. People can now access information in 30 languages, including content covering payment for work, holidays and taking time off, parental leave and ending employment. 
 
To access translated materials visit: https://www.fairwork.gov.au/language-help
 
Animated language storyboards
 
The FWO has launched six animated storyboards to help migrant workers and employers understand the fundamentals of the Australian workplace relations system. 
 
The storyboards are a preferred educative medium for migrant workers because they allow use of visual literacy skills to interpret information – a critical information tool for people that don’t share a common language or who do not have strong language skills, either in English or their preferred language.
 
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’
 
The storyboards are available in Chinese, Korean, Hindi, Vietnamese and Arabic and can be accessed at https://www.fairwork.gov.au/language-help/language-storyboards