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Safeguarding the global contingent workforce? Guestworkers in Australia

Author

Listed:
  • Stefanie Toh
  • Michael Quinlan

Abstract

Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to examine occupational health and safety (OHS) and workers' compensation legal entitlements and policy issues raised by the use of foreign temporary workers under the s457 visa scheme in Australia. Design/methodology/approach - Interviews were conducted with 15 representatives of unions and employers along with written responses from government agencies and examination of government statistics, court and other documents. Findings - The study suggests that foreign temporary workers can face significant difficulty in accessing their OHS rights and entitlements. This represents a challenge for government as well as unions and human resource professionals trying to manage workforce diversity. Research limitations/implications - Further detailed investigation is required into the extent of problems identified in this paper in Australia and other countries. Practical implications - The study indicates that governments making use of guestworkers need to investigate whether these workers have effective access to the protection of OHS and workers' compensation laws and, if not, as indicated by this study, to make suitable policy interventions. Originality/value - The human resource implications of managing guestworkers have been under-researched to date despite the global growth in numbers. The paper starts to fill this gap, identifying a number of important policy issues in relation to OHS.

Suggested Citation

  • Stefanie Toh & Michael Quinlan, 2009. "Safeguarding the global contingent workforce? Guestworkers in Australia," International Journal of Manpower, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 30(5), pages 453-471, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:ijmpps:v:30:y:2009:i:5:p:453-471
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