Addressing temporary migrant worker exploitation

Published: 27 July 2020

A range of policy, legislative and operational changes will be made over the coming years to address temporary migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand.

The changes will reduce the risk of exploitation occurring, which is increasing as a result of COVID-19. They will also remove barriers for migrants to report exploitation and will improve the end-to-end system response.

The Government is investing $50 million to implement the changes which include establishing a new visa to support migrants to leave exploitative situations and increasing the number of immigration investigators and labour inspectors to strengthen the enforcement response.

A free-phone number and reporting and triaging function will be set up to receive and handle complaints about exploitative environments. This will ensure there is a dedicated focus on dealing with complaints of exploitation and help build a better understanding of the nature and scale of the problem, which will inform proportionate enforcement action.

Policy changes will be made to raise the standards for franchises and other business models that can often facilitate exploitative practices. The enforcement response will be further strengthened with new immigration infringement offences, expanding the Immigration Act stand-down list to include offences where a fine was issued, and notifying migrant workers when their employer is stood-down.

Some of the changes require legislation, which would go through the full Parliamentary process.

These changes are being made as part of the MBIE-led Review into temporary migrant worker exploitation. The Review aims to prevent migrant exploitation at work, protect migrant workers, and enforce immigration and employment law.

While work is ongoing to implement the changes, MBIE continues to take enforcement action against the exploitation of migrant workers.

More information on the upcoming changes and the Temporary Migrant Worker Exploitation Review.

MBIE media contacts

Phone: 027 442 2141