It is a welcome move by the Honourable Minister Michael Woodhouse to introduce a bill for harsher penalties for the migrant employers, who are found guilty of labour exploitation.
The curent penalties are set at maximum 7 years of imprisonment or fine up to $100,000 as per the Immigration Act 2009. However, the law only applies to those who are found exploiting unlawful employees. Once enacted, It is said the new legislation will cover the employers exploiting all foreign workers whether they are lawfully in New Zealand or not.
Labour exploitation is not specifically defined in the Act, but s 351 of the Immigration Act 2009 describes it broadly to cover any serious breach of the employment laws including the Minimum Wages Act, Holidays Act or Wages Protection Act.
The affect of this bill is significant for those migrant employers, who have had a NZ residence visa less than 10 years. If convicted, s 161 (1) (c) of the Immigration Act will allow the immigration officials to deport them to their home countries no matter how long they have enjoyed the every privilege of being New Zealand residents.
The legislative move is in line with the recent change in the immigration instructions that will provide the victims of labour exploitations immunity from their own breach of visa conditions when they report incidents to the authority.
This is a clear signal to the migrant communities that bringing their third-world type labour cultures into this country will not be tolerated. The Minister of immigration and his team certainly deserve some browny points for this much needed efforts.