The federal government announced last week changes to the standard foreign worker visas that may have an impact on hiring policy around the country.
These changes have been designed to protect temporary workers from exploitation, but are more primarily focused at ensuring that jobs are available for Australian workers who are adequately skilled for the position.
The main change delivered by the Immigration Department reduces the grace period given to skilled foreign workers if they leave their current job. Workers originally employed under a 457 temporary skilled worker visa will now have 60 days to reapply for a visa with a new employer, reduced from 90 days.
While the impact on foreign workers is obvious, the pressure on employers and labour hire to ensure that they are hiring employees quickly, and with all the credentials to meet skilled migration requirements, is increased.
If employers choose to consider foreign skilled workers requiring sponsorship of a 457 visa, they will need to increase the speed and efficiency of their recruitment process. If a skilled foreign worker is being considered for a position, the shortened time limit means that the grace period allowing that worker to stay in Australia may expire during the recruitment process.
Workers hired without the right to work covered by a working visa, such as a 457 visa, are considered illegal workers. Employers who fail to commit to adequate right to work checks - and by doing so, employ illegal workers - face penalties of up to $270,000.
Organisations that need assistance in hiring of appropriately credentialed and legally available workers will look for solutions that speed up their recruitment process and remove some of the effort required to ensure that workers’ credentials and right to work status are valid and certified.
In the meantime, the government hopes that employers will look more closely at hiring appropriately credentialed Australian workers before choosing foreign workers. This strategy is intended to grow the Australian workforce, reduce unemployment rates, and build the Australian economy as a result.