Government announces new 457 visa labour market testing rules

The government announced today it will adopt a sensible approach to the implementation of new rules requiring employers to test the local labour market before seeking to employ an overseas worker on a subclass 457 visa.

In making the announcement, Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, noted that labour market testing is a requirement of the Migration Amendment (Temporary Sponsored Visas) Act 2013 which was introduced by the previous government and passed by the previous Parliament in June without adequate consultation.

‘The Abbott Government is committed to ensuring that the subclass 457 program acts as a supplement to, and not a substitute for Australian workers,’ Minister Cash noted, adding that, ‘the government fully supports the principle that Australian workers have priority, but to bind employers up in needless red tape will only stymie Australian business and cost Australian jobs over the long run. That is why in implementing Labor’s labour market testing policy the government has adopted a sensible approach by exempting highly skilled occupations from the requirement.’

When it commences, labour market testing will apply to mainly technical and trade occupations available for sponsorship under the Subclass 457 visa programme. Exemptions will apply in a small number of cases in which labour market testing would conflict with Australia’s international trade obligations, and the Act also allows for the minister to declare exemptions in the event of a major disaster, in order to allow overseas disaster relief and recovery workers to enter Australia unimpeded.

While the legislation which introduces labour market testing passed through the Senate of the previous parliament at its last sitting on June 28, its actual implementation has been delayed until November 23 to allow sufficient time for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to consult employee and employer groups on its implementation. ‘It’s a sad indictment of the previous government that we have had to consult on legislation, which the former government introduced, after it has already passed both Houses of Parliament. In implementing this legislation the government has therefore been mindful that affected parties have been consulted to ensure that its implementation is done in a practical way, which accounts for its impact on Australian businesses and Australian workers alike,’ Minister Cash said.

Guidelines released by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for labour market testing recognise a broad range of recruitment activity as being an acceptable demonstration of labour market testing, and the time period in which labour market testing evidence will be valid for will be 12 months.