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The Australian Labor Party (ALP) may vote on supporting the removal of the 40-hour work restriction on International students.

Currently, International Student may only work 40-hours per fortnight. This new move aims to abolish that, however, tougher course completion and attendance requirements will be in place.

If this move is passed, a new Labour Government would prevent the sharing of information between the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) and the Department of Home Affairs, especially regarding international students reporting underpayment of wages.

This is in light of calls for the removal of the 88-day regional work placement requirement for backpacker visa holders, which they claim was the main cause of the “exploitation and underpayment” of temporary foreign workers.

The move comes after receiving reports from community legal centers found that migrant workers out of fear of losing their jobs or visas were hesitant to lodge a complaint about underpayment.

 

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Audits by Unions NSW on foreign advertisements – in Spanish, Korean, Nepalese, Chinese and Punjabi found that 70 percent of the positions offered pay below Australia’s legal minimum wage.

Mark Morey, Secretary for Unions NSW, mentions that deportation amnesty for people who reported wage theft is a necessity and that the separation between the FWO and the Department of Home Affairs will send a strong message that lodging a complaint against underpayment will not have your visa canceled. Temporary foreign workers should not be stripped of their labor rights for reporting wage theft.

While the FWO has previously offered amnesty to temporary foreign workers who report on wage theft, FOI documentation by NSW confirms that the Ombudsman has an informal “non-binding” agreement with the Department of Home Affairs although the agreement technically cannot be enforced.

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