The Challenges of Regulating Temporary migrant labour in Australia

Centre Member: Joo-Cheong Tham

Schemes for temporary migrant workers have expanded in many countries in response to employer demands for more flexible labour. Such schemes present a major challenge for labour regulation in the receiving countries. Though it is widely accepted, if dangers of economic and social disruption are to be avoided, that such workers should be integrated into the mainstream of employee protection, debate often rages on how the regulatory system should institute such integration. Precisely what rights should such workers acquire? Precisely what labour standards should apply? Who should decide? These questions are particularly sharp in countries such as Australia, where there has been a dramatic growth of temporary workers, and employment forms have multiplied and the labour regulation system increasingly resembles a patchwork marked by complex overlapping of standards in some places and complete gaps in other places. These questions, however, have been largely neglected by Australian scholarship.

This interdisciplinary project undertaken with Dr Iain Campbell, RMIT University, will examine the challenges of regulating temporary migrant labour in Australia.