If you are thinking about sponsoring a foreign worker on a 482, 186 or 187 Visa, you may have noticed that, in most cases, the worker’s occupation needs to be on the short-term or medium and long-term occupation list. However, if you have searched the lists and cannot find the worker’s occupation there, you may have another option. In certain circumstances, an employer can make an application to the Australian government for a labour agreement. This article explains what a labour agreement is and whether your business will be eligible to apply for one.
What is a Labour Agreement?
A labour agreement is a special relationship between a business and the Australian government to sponsor skilled foreign workers for a short time where there is no existing migration pathway.
However, you can only enter into a labour agreement if there is a genuine market need that cannot be filled by Australian workers. Your business needs to demonstrate that you commit to hiring Australian workers and reducing dependence on foreign workers in the future.
What Kinds of Labour Agreements Are Available?
There are four types of labour agreements.
1. Company Specific Labour Agreements
Firstly, this labour agreement is developed between the Australian government and a specific employer. It is determined on a case by case basis. This is the most common form of labour agreement and the most easily accessible for individual businesses.
2. Industry Labour Agreements
Secondly, in a situation where several businesses in the same industry have approached the Department of Home Affairs for a labour agreement, and there is evidence of ongoing labour shortage in that industry, the Department may consider an industry labour agreement.
An industry labour agreement can come about after careful consideration and consultation with that industry and the relevant stakeholders.
However, industry labour agreement are fairly rare. For example, the current industry agreements in place are:
- minister of religion;
- pork; and
- restaurant (fine dining).
3. Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA)
Thirdly, a DAMA allows designated areas undergoing skills shortages to recruit additional workers. There is only one DAMA in place already, in the Northern Territory.
State and territory governments and planning commissions are the only bodies eligible to apply for a DAMA to cover their local area.
4. Global Talent Scheme Agreements
This agreement is a pilot scheme for the temporary skill shortage (TSS) visa program (which replaces the 457 visa). The scheme lasts for 12 months and began on 1 July 2018.
This agreement is suitable if you are seeking workers for a small number of very niche, highly-skilled roles.
5. Project Agreements
Finally, a project labour agreement allows project companies experiencing genuine labour or skills shortages to bring in foreign workers during the construction of a resource or infrastructure project.
In addition, project companies with projects endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the China-Australia Investment Facilitation Arrangement (IFA) can request a project agreement.
Key Requirements to Request a Labour Agreement
There are a number of requirements to be eligible to request a labour agreement. These include:
- you must demonstrate that your business has been operating in Australia for the last 12 months and financially able to support the proposed workers;
- there must be no adverse information against your business (for example, that the business is insolvent, has broken the law or has provided the Department of Home Affairs with any false or misleading information in the past);
- the labour agreement stream is not intended for non-skilled workers. The skill level of the nominated workers must be 1-4 on the ANZCO list, but not necessarily listed on the short-term occupation list;
- your business must demonstrate that there is a genuine labour market need for the type of worker you intend to bring in to Australia. You will need to demonstrate that you have unsuccessfully attempted to recruit Australian workers in the past;
- you will need to demonstrate that the foreign workers will not undermine your Australian workforce. The labour agreement is designed for foreign workers to supplement already existing employees; and
- prior to lodging a request for a company-specific labour agreement, your business will need to consult with relevant industry stakeholders. This can include relevant unions, agencies, industry associations and community groups.
How Do I Request a Labour Agreement?
In order to request a labour agreement, you must make an application to the Department of Home Affairs. As part of the application process, you will also need to submit supporting documentation and evidence addressing the criteria for the type of labour agreement you wish to request.
Once an application is lodged, the Department of Home Affairs will typically assess your application within six months. If a labour agreement is approved, it will generally last for five years.
A labour agreement can mean your business can hire foreign workers if another migration pathway doesn’t exist. There are five types of labour agreement, including:
- company-specific labour agreement;
- industry labour agreement;
- global talent scheme agreement; and
- project agreement.
Accordingly, if you are considering making an application for a labour agreement, contact LegalVision’s immigration lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.
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