RLC Joint Submission: Senate Standing Committee on Economics Inquiry into Unlawful Underpayment of Employees’ Remuneration

Redfern Legal Centre's International Student Legal Service NSW has provided a response alongside WEstjustice Community Legal Centre and the Migrant Employment Legal Service regarding the underpayment and exploitation of migrant workers. 

Underpayment or the non-payment of wages and entitlements is the single-most common employment-related problem for clients of our services.

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. Many migrant workers do not understand their working rights, or are not supported to enforce them. Many of our clients simply accept wage theft.

The submission focuses on the forms and reasons for wage theft, how to identify wage theft and how to effectively recover unpaid entitlements.  We make 37 recommendations which aim to make a real difference to the lives of vulnerable workers.  


  • Amend the Migration Act to provide bridging arrangements for temporary visa holders to pursue meritorious claims about wage or super theft or other forms of unlawful work exploitation.
  • Introduce criminal penalties for wage theft, accompanied by mechanisms that address the underlying vulnerabilities that allow the workplace exploitation of temporary visa holders, as outlined in our other recommendations.