The temporary skilled work subclass 457 programme will be reformed in response to the changing needs of the Australian economy and domestic employment market, the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has announced.
Brendan O’Connor said that the 457 programme plays a vital role in ensuring that Australian businesses are able to source the skilled workers they need where they are unable to find suitably skilled labour in the domestic employment market.
Under the changes employers must demonstrate that they are not nominating positions where a genuine shortage does not exist and the enforce ability of existing training requirements for businesses that use the programme will be strengthened.
The English language requirements for certain positions are being raised, the market salary exemption will rise from $180,000 to $250,000 and on hire arrangements of 457 visa workers will be restricted. Also compliance and enforcement powers will be beefed up to stop employers who have routinely abused the 457 system and stakeholders will be consulted to ensure market rate provisions more effectively protect local employment.
O’Connor explained that it is important that the programme takes into account the needs of employers and that of the Australian domestic labour force. However, at the same time the government recognises that in some industries and some regions there are genuine skill shortages that can only be addressed by the use of temporary foreign labour. ‘It has become clear that the growth in the 457 programme is out of step with those skills shortages, and the government has evidence that some employers are using 457 visas to discriminate against locals. This cannot continue,’ said O’Connor.
Quote from AustraliaForum.com : “I just reached Australia with subclass 457 visa, that was sponsored by a company. Now working in a IT company as a contractor. Now I would like to switch to other company. I’m not sure whether I can use the existing visa or do I need to get a new visa sponsored by new company. Guide me please!”
‘Australians deserve the chance to get local jobs on local projects and the government is determined to make that happen. In this context, the government has decided to introduce a set of changes to the 457 programme to ensure employers give Australian workers a fair go,’ he explained.
‘We do not want to punish those employers who have genuine skill shortages and who are using 457 visas in the way that the system is intended. But my message to those employers who are either flouting the rules or deliberately overlooking local employees is that the government will not accept these practices,’ he added.
Substantial changes were made to the 457 programme in 2009 to make it more expensive to recruit overseas workers and to strengthen the infringement regime for businesses that were abusing the system. ‘We will build on those reforms and take further action to ensure that the system is working appropriately and that local workers are not disadvantaged,’ added O’Connor.
MARCH 4, 2013