For over 20 years, Australian businesses have taken the option of engaging overseas employees through 457 sponsorships.
For over 20 years, Australian businesses have taken the option of engaging overseas employees through 457 sponsorships. Introduced by the Howard government in 1996, the Temporary Work (Skilled) visa (sub-class 457) has seen over 46,000 applications lodged and granted in the last financial year, allowing overseas skilled workers to migrate and temporarily adopt Australia as their home.
Commencing 1 March 2018, the Australian Government – through the Department of Home Affairs has taken its final step in abolishing the 457 employer sponsored visa to replace it with the new Temporary Skills Shortage visa (TSS). The reforms were announced in April 2017 with changes initiated including:
- Significant condensation of existing eligible occupations (from 651 to 435 occupations) and the reshaping of the list into two separate groups;
- Short-term Skilled Occupations List (STSOL)
- Medium and Long-term Strategic Skills List (MLTSSL)
- Reduction of the maximum duration of the 457 visa from four to two years; and
- Greater focus on compliance to employer sponsorship obligations and sanctions invoked on employers who fail to meet their obligations.
Impact of Changes on HR Practices
This major reform will also see the tightening of the TSS employee eligibility criteria, which will ultimately force employers to reconsider current practices across a broad range of HR functions, specifically in the area of recruitment and selection. For each overseas candidate being considered for sponsorship under the TSS, employers should consider and reflect on the following.
More specifically, businesses that currently sponsor overseas workers need to revisit their sponsorship status and review the details of their sponsorship obligations. Employers must fully understand the intricacies surrounding the reforms to avoid sanctions.
Think Global. Act Local.
The Australian Government has made it clear that significant reforms and transitioning to the TSS visa is a requisite to “better meet Australia’s skills needs, increase the quality and economic contribution of skilled migrants and address public concerns about the displacement of Australian workers.”
In the HR context, there is no better time than the present for employers to “act local” by focusing on internal HR policies and practices, aligning these to business outcomes and objectives. For example, taking a proactive approach to workforce planning – considering what skills and experience are required for the continued and future success of the business, and what steps you need to take to ensure they are recruited into your business will ensure you are prepared to meet the key HR challenges which the TSS is designed to support.
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