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The traditional route of employer sponsorship (via the subclass 482) may not be available or suitable for some businesses. An example is when a business needs to sponsor an overseas worker but the position they want to fill is not on the relevant skilled occupations list. In these circumstances, a business may consider a labour agreement to sponsor skilled overseas workers rather than the standard business sponsorship pathway. There are a number of labour agreements available in Australia. The company specific labour agreement (CSLA) is unique as its approval is dependent on the specific needs and objectives of the business. Such agreements are assessed on a case by case basis.

This article will consider:

  • when a CSLA would be suitable; and 
  • the key requirements to be eligible to request this agreement.

When Should My Business Consider a CSLA?

As the name suggests, a CSLA is specific to your business and its terms and conditions are considered on a case by case basis.

You may consider applying for a CSLA when other avenues are not available, such as:

  • the occupation you want to nominate is not on the skilled occupation list (in respect to the subclass 482);
  • there is no relevant and appropriate industry labour agreement that pertains to your business and the nominated occupation; or
  • a designated area migration agreement or project agreement is not in place.

In particular, employers requesting a CSLA will need to make a compelling business case and provide substantive evidence that it has a genuine labour market need to utilise the labour agreement program.

To request a CSLA, you must submit a request to the Department of Home Affairs (‘the Department’). It usually takes upwards of six months for the Department to assess the request. If approved, the CSLA will be in effect for five years.

During the five year period, your business may vary the labour agreement. However, you must submit a new request to vary the terms of the agreement. 

The key requirements to be eligible to request a CSLA are discussed below.

Demonstrate You Have a Genuine Labour Market Need

To be considered for a CSLA, you must show that your business has a genuine need for an exceptional or niche skill that cannot be filled through the Australian labour market.

For example, you must have made recent and genuine efforts to recruit Australian citizens or permanent residents to fill a position before utilising the labour agreement program.

Evidence of such recruitment efforts should, at a minimum, reflect the labour market testing requirement equivalent to that required for the Temporary Skill Shortage visa (subclass 482) (TSS visa). 

For example, you can provide copies of:

  • job advertisements; and 
  • information regarding your business’ participation in any job and career expos.

You must also ensure you can meet the salary and employment conditions equivalent to those required for the TSS visa.

Demonstrate You Are Seeking to Fill Skilled Positions

The labour agreement program is not designed for non-skilled workers. You must be able to demonstrate that you are seeking to fill positions for skilled labour. Accordingly, the relevant position must:

You will need to identify the relevant ANZSCO code or other industry agreement specific code for the nominated occupation in your request. You must also supply a detailed job description that outlines the skills and tasks required for the role and how these are consistent with the corresponding ANZSCO code.

In addition, the proposed skilled worker must:

  • have at least two years of relevant work experience;
  • meet the skill requirements outlined in the relevant ANZSCO code for that occupation;
  • meet any industry registration or licensing requirements; and
  • meet the English language requirements of the short-term stream of the TSS visa.

Demonstrate Your Workforce Needs

The CSLA is expected to be a temporary solution only to address immediate skill needs and shortages. As a result, you must show that:

  • the overseas workers will not form more than one-third of your total workforce; and
  • you have a plan in place to train and employ Australians so a labour agreement is not required in the future.

The labour agreement is designed for foreign workers to supplement existing Australian employees and you will need to demonstrate that the foreign workers will not undermine employment or training opportunities for Australians.

Be an Australian Business With Good Standing

You will need to demonstrate that you are an Australian registered business with good standing. This involves proving that your business is:

  • lawful and operating in Australia for at least twelve months; and
  • financially viable and able to support the employment of the overseas workers. To demonstrate this, you should provide a statement from a chartered or certified practicing accountant.

There must also be no ‘adverse information’ about your business unless the Department considers it reasonable to disregard.

Examples of this include where the business:

  • has broken a law in Australia;
  • is under investigation for breaking such a law by an appropriate authority;
  • is insolvent; or
  • has provided false or misleading information in any form to any appropriate authority (e.g. the Department) at any time.

If any of these apply to you, you should ensure that you disclose any adverse information in your request and explain why you believe the Department should disregard this information.

Demonstrate You Have Consulted With Industry Stakeholders

Before requesting a CSLA, you must have consulted with all relevant industry stakeholders. These may include:

  • the industry body which best represents your interests;
  • the union relevant to the occupation requests; and
  • any community group that may be impacted by the proposed labour agreement, such as schools or health services.

You will also need to provide these stakeholders with specific information about the agreement, including about the:

  • number of overseas workers in each year of the agreement and their occupations;
  • location of their workplace;
  • proposed salary, relevant awards and how you determined this amount;
  • any concessions you seek to the TSS program; and
  • details of training for your Australian workforce to reduce your reliance on overseas workers.

Evidence should be provided of the outcome of the stakeholder consultations, including copies of all written requests for comment on the proposed CSLA and the responses.

Key Takeaways

A Company Specific Labour Agreement (CSLA) is developed between the Australian government and a specific employer. As each request is considered on a case by case basis, it is essential that the business prepares a detailed and persuasive business case that addresses the following (the below is not exhaustive): 

  • the nature of the business and its activity;
  • the genuine need for the CSLA and the nominated occupation;
  • consultation with relevant industry stakeholders;
  • efforts to recruit Australians to fill the position and reasons for not being able to;
  • benefits of CSLA to the business and impact to the business if CSLA is not approved; and
  • the skills that the foreign worker will have to occupy the nominated position. 

If you are considering requesting a CSLA to sponsor overseas workers, contact LegalVision’s Immigration Lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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