RLC Joint Submission: Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Temporary Migration

RLC's International Student Service NSW made submissions with Kingsford Legal Centre, and the Migrant Employment Legal Service advocating for comprehensive workplace reforms to address the exploitation of people who hold temporary visas.

Migrant workers

We have found that unscrupulous employers target and exploit vulnerable workers, gaining commercial benefit from illegal practices that allow them to undercut businesses doing the right thing. Recently arrived migrant workers, including temporary visa holders, face additional barriers when trying to find work, accessing the legal system and enforcing their employment rights.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people who hold temporary visas have been particularly marginalised by their inability to access social security benefits. Many are unable to return to their home countries because airlines are not flying or borders are closed.


Our joint submission focuses on the impact of wage theft, breaches of workplace rights and conditions, modern slavery and human trafficking on temporary migrants. We make 37 recommendations for comprehensive workplace reform to address the multi-faceted causes of migrant worker exploitation.


  • Amend the Migration Act to provide bridging arrangements for temporary visa holders to pursue meritorious claims about wage theft or other breaches of workplace rights and conditions.
  • Establish a new wage theft tribunal, facilitating individual wage recovery via mediation and enforceable orders, based on the applicant-led model for bringing unfair dismissal claims at the Fair Work Commission.