What is the change? Australia’s shadow government has submitted a bill to the Federal Parliament that would expand labour market testing requirements, change work and labour agreement standards and create an Australian Jobs Test to hold employers responsible for helping develop training in skills shortage areas.

What does the change mean? The proposed legislative amendments would place new responsibilities and additional evidentiary requirements on employers utilising the 457 visa programme. However, because it was proposed by the opposition party, it is unlikely the bill will receive Royal Assent and take effect, at least in its current form.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing. The bill and the issues it covers are likely to be debated further in 2017.
  • Visas/permits affected: Subclass 457 visas. 
  • Who is affected: Sponsoring employers and foreign workers hoping to obtain 457 visas.
  • Business impact: The changes, including the new labour market testing proposals, would add to the time and cost of recruiting workers through the 457 visa programme.

Background: The shadow government said the premise of its bill was to reflect that Australia’s temporary skilled migration programme “provides a vehicle for responding to skills shortages in the domestic labour market rather than for bypassing suitably qualified and experienced local workers.”

The bill would:

  • Expand labour market testing requirements. Sponsors would be required to meet more stringent labour market testing standards. Jobs would have to be advertised for at least four weeks. The bill would ban advertising that targets overseas workers or specified visa class workers at the exclusion of Australians. Labour market testing would have to be conducted no more than four months before the nomination of a 457 visa worker.
  • Enhance work and labour agreement requirements. The bill would put in place new requirements for the Minister in regard to local jobs, labour market needs, training plans and overseas worker support plans. It would also require foreign workers working in an area where professional licencing is required to either undergo a mandatory skills assessment or demonstrate that they meet the requirements for obtaining a licence in their field of work.
  • Introduce an Australian Jobs Test. The test would require employers to show the contributions they have made to local employment and skills development. The bill would grant authority to the Minister to deny or remove approved sponsor status for employers who fail the test. The test would be introduced in addition to the labour market testing requirements, not in place of them.

BAL Analysis: While the shadow government’s bill includes a bevy of new proposals that would impose new responsibilities on employers in the 457 visa programme, it is unlikely that the bill will receive majority support in the Federal Parliament. BAL will continue following the issues covered in the bill and will alert clients to any changes to the 457 or other Australian visa programmes.

This alert has been provided by BAL Australia. For additional information, please contact australia@bal.com

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