The Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM) last week began its review into the skilled migration programme, with a view to removing specific occupations from the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List (CSOL).
The MACSM primarily advises the government on visa and policy settings to optimise skilled migration to Australia, and improve Australia’s productivity while boosting its economy. It ultimately advises the government on which occupations should be included on the list, and which should be left out.
Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) council representative, Ged Kearney, has welcomed the review, saying that there is no reason why some occupations should be on the list. Others, such as Australia Chamber of Commerce and Industry director Jenny Lambert, have said that the CSOL should not be shortened, but should be responsive and allow for different business and regional differences.
It has been suggested that the CSOL review should take an evidence-based approach to maximise the effectiveness of the 457 programme, and should not try to make the CSOL into a shortages list.
Ms Kearney has further said that the mobility of the Australian labour force is an issue that must be addressed, and supported the need for a robust 457 programme by indicating that instead of taking away jobs from Australians, a well-balanced program would generate jobs.
FCB Smart Visa will be holding several obligation and cost free round-table discussions on the mobility of the labour force in the coming weeks. We will focus on the 457 programme, and what the government’s changes will mean for your business. If you are interested in attending one of these sessions, please call an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on 02 9922 5188.

A string of recent cases demonstrate the Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) heightened focus on compliance with employment and visa conditions for foreign workers. Most significantly, in the largest-ever court-imposed fine for a breach of 457 visa sponsorship obligations, the Federal Court handed down a pecuniary penalty of $175,000 to Choong Enterprises Pty Ltd, for systematic underpayment of Filipino workers. The company has been directed to back-pay the employees a total of $125,956.

FWO’s emphasis on foreign workers is a result of the Independent Review into the 457 visa programme earlier this year. In response to the Review, the Federal Government announced that the FWO would play an increasingly prominent role in monitoring and enforcing compliance in relation to overseas workers.

FWO has accepted this role with vigour. Some recent examples of underpayment claims involving foreign workers include:

  • An underpayment claim totaling $35,900 of Chinese nationals on 417 visas in an Adelaide fast food takeaway shop.
  • Underpayment of $4,200 to an overseas worker employed by a small retailer in NSW. Due to a history of underpayment claims the business will face potential penalties of up to $51,000 for the company and $10,200 for the owner.
  • Underpayment of $5,573 by a prominent fast food restaurant to a Korean worker on a 417 visa. Owners of the business will be required to undertake compliance training as part of an Enforceable Undertaking in addition to back payment of the wages.

FWO is not just targeting underpayments; visas which allow foreign visitors to work in Australia each come with their own unique set of conditions which must be complied with.

457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa

  • Holders of this class of visa must work for the approved sponsor in a position compliant with the nominated role they elected when applying for their visa, and at least at their nominated salary
  • Workers must also not cease work for more than 90 days

417 Working Holiday/462 Work and Holiday

  • Workers holding these classes of visas must not work for one employer for more than six months
  • Employers should note that this applies to workers engaged on a casual on-hire basis. This means that even if a worker is strictly the employee of an on-hire company, they are still prohibited from working at one business (i.e. an end-user client) for longer than six months

573 Higher Education Sector Visa

  • These visa holders cannot work more than 40 hours in any given fortnight whilst their course is in session
  • Only outside the advertised course session are employees permitted to work full time hours

What does this mean for Standard Business Sponsors?

Businesses should be mindful of the conditions which may apply to visa holders, in addition to all usual employment entitlements. The FWO has taken on its monitoring role robustly and, as has been demonstrated, contraventions in relation to foreign workers will not be viewed lightly.

FCB Smart Visa will continue to provide the most up to date information on future changes. To discuss any concerns you may have regarding your sponsorship obligations, please contact an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on (02) 9922 5188.

A new nine member panel has been appointed as the next Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration (MACSM), comprised of both new and returning members.

The Council’s role is to advise the government on visa and policy issues to enhance the function of Australia’s skilled migration program, and its contribution to Australia’s productivity and economy.

The recent reviews of the subclass 457 and Significant Investor Visa programmes highlight the importance of the Council in its role as advisor to the government; it will take into consideration the factors presented in these reviews, which will ultimately lead to the programmes better meeting Australia’s needs in the skilled migration space.

One of the first tasks of the panel will be to review the composition of the Consolidated Sponsored Occupation List, with a view to increasing the productivity contribution of sponsored migration.

The panel will include:

  • Innes Willox – Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group
  • Ged Kearney – President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions
  • John Azarias – Senior Partner from Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
  • Su McCluskey – Chief Executive Officer of the Regional Australia Institute
  • Steve Knott – Chief Executive of the Australian Mines and Metals Association
  • Brett Moller – President of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland
  • Carol Giuseppi – Acting Chief Executive officer at Tourism Accommodation Australia
  • Sylvia Burbery – General Manager of Mars Petcare Australia/New Zealand

Assistant Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, the Hon Michaelia Cash said, ‘these nine members all bring with them a wealth of experience and represent industry, unions and State and Territory governments. All appointments will initially be for 12 months.’

FCB Smart Visa will continue to provide updates on the work of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Skilled Migration when they become available. If you have any migration matters that you would like to discuss, please call an FCB Smart Visa migration agent on 02 9922 5188.