Temporary migrant worker exploitation review

We are leading an in-depth policy and operational review to better understand temporary migrant worker exploitation in New Zealand and identify impactful and enduring solutions.

About the review

MBIE is leading a policy and operational review of Temporary Migrant Worker Exploitation in New Zealand.

In September 2018, Cabinet agreed to progress an action item in the coalition agreement between Labour and New Zealand First - to take serious action on migrant exploitation, particularly of international students. The Review is a multi-year programme of work that complements other work being done in MBIE and across government agencies, including on the employer-assisted temporary work visa policy.

Read the Minister’s media release announcing the review(external link)

Read the Cabinet paper that began the review: Addressing temporary migrant exploitation [PDF, 2.1 MB]

The goal of the Review is to reduce the exploitation of temporary migrant workers, including international students. Its objectives are to:

  • Prevent the occurrence of workplace (and other) conditions that might enable temporary migrant worker exploitation

  • Protect temporary migrant workers in New Zealand and enable them to leave exploitative employment

  • Enforce immigration and employment law to deter employer non-compliance through a fit-for-purpose offence and penalty regime.

We recently consulted on a set of proposed changes that will prevent migrant exploitation, protect exploited migrants, and better enforce appropriate working conditions and immigration obligations. Consultation closed on 27 November.

An overview of the proposals is available on the consultation page 

As part of the review, we commissioned wide-ranging research on the nature of temporary migrant worker exploitation, and the gaps and opportunities to address this. This research was conducted through a third party, to provide an independent and confidential space to hear the experiences of migrant and international student groups, and to hear from unions and businesses.

Read the independent research and other background documents relating to the review(external link)

We also established a consultation group representing migrants, businesses, unions and international students. The group has provided perspectives as the review developed ideas.

Even though this Temporary Migrant Worker Exploitation Review focuses on temporary migrant workers, including international students, many of the proposals to reduce their exploitation could benefit everyone in work, including New Zealand permanent residents and citizens.

Next steps

The Minister of Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety will report back to Cabinet in early 2020 on the results of the consultation process and with final proposals for change.

We expect to publish a summary of the consultation feedback in the first half of 2020.

Further stages of the review will commence in 2020. We’ll update the information on these stages as they roll out.

Who to contact about exploitation

To report migrant exploitation, contact the MBIE Service Centre on 0800 20 90 20

To report anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or fill out a form on crimestoppers-nz.org(external link)

To report people trafficking, call New Zealand Police 105 or 111 (if it is an emergency).

Last updated: 12 May 2020