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New Process For Temporary Business Visa Labour Agreements

New Process For Temporary Business Visa Labour Agreements

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, yesterday confirmed that labour agreements covering business visas will be subject to a more transparent process. Employers can negotiate a labour agreement with the Commonwealth which sets out the numbers and occupations of overseas skilled workers to be covered and provides for variations to the standard requirements under the temporary business Subclass 457 visa program.

The Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Senator Chris Evans, yesterday confirmed that labour agreements covering business visas will be subject to a more transparent process.

Employers can negotiate a labour agreement with the Commonwealth which sets out the numbers and occupations of overseas skilled workers to be covered and provides for variations to the standard requirements under the temporary business Subclass 457 visa program.

Labour agreements provide flexibility to vary standard requirements for Subclass 457 visas which include language skills, occupational skill levels and salary levels.

Concessions included in past labour agreements include lower minimum salary levels and access to lower skilled occupations.

In some sectors employers can only access overseas skilled workers if they have an approved labour agreement.

“˜I have come to the view that the process for negotiating and approving these agreements should be informed by the views of relevant stakeholders,’ Senator Evans said.

“˜Therefore employers seeking labour agreements will now be required to consult with relevant industrial stakeholders, including peak bodies, professional associations and unions about the proposed agreement and forward their views to the Department.

“˜The Department will advise employers on what will be required for this consultation.

“˜I want to make it clear that no-one will be given a veto right to block the approval of a labour agreement.

“˜The Department will take the views of stakeholders into account when considering the approval of a proposed agreement.

“˜I recognise that labour agreements can play an important and positive role in meeting the needs of particular sectors, allowing employers to plan ahead for their workforce needs and address specific requirements that they may have.’

Under the previous Government the meat industry was required to negotiate a labour agreement in consultation with the State Governments and the meat workers union.

“˜The sector now has an effective agreement that enjoys community support and meets the needs of the industry which shows what can be achieved through a more transparent process,’ the Minister said.

“˜Separate to the arrangements that will now apply to labour agreements, employers remain entitled to apply for 457 visas under the Standard Business Sponsorship arrangements.

“˜These applications will have to comply with the legislative requirements that apply to those visas and there is no requirement to consult with third parties when applying for 457 visas under the Standard Business Sponsorship arrangements.

“˜The Government is considering options to reduce processing times and fast track applications for 457 visas, to facilitate their use in meeting skill shortages.’

In addition to these changes an External Reference Group made up of industry experts has begun examining how selected temporary skilled migration measures can help ease labour shortages in the medium to long term.

The group will provide specific advice on ways to ensure the 457 visa program operates as effectively as possible in contributing to the supply of skilled labour.

The construction, major infrastructure, tourism and the resources sectors are the focus of the External Reference Group.

The industry experts who make up the reference group are:

  • Peter Coates (Chairman) – Former Chairman, Minerals Council of Australia; Chairman, Xstrata Australia.
  • Melinda Cilento – Deputy Chief Executive, Business Council of Australia.
  • Tim Shanahan – Director, Energy and Minerals Initiative, University of Western Australia; Former CEO, WA Chamber of Minerals and Energy.

The reference group will provide an interim report to the Minister by 14 March with a final report due in April.