Senate Inquiry Recommends Changes to Temporary Worker Framework

Senate Inquiry into Temporary Workers

A senate inquiry has found significant numbers of temporary workers are being exploited by employers. The committee found exploitation by labour hire companies in particular.

The report was entitled “A National Disgrace: The Exploitation of Temporary Work Visa Holders“, a clear indication that exploitation of temporary workers was very much of concern.

Changes have been recommended to the temporary visa framework which could affect all employers – even those doing the right thing.

Amongst the suggested changes are, as follows:

  • Possible limits to the amount of time temporary visa holders can stay in Australia before becoming a permanent resident
  • Creating a public register of approved labour agreements
  • A licensing regime and public register for labour hire companies
  • Additional protections for temporary visa holders under the Fair Work Act and Fair Entitlements Guarantee Act
  • Additional education on rights at work for temporary visa holders
  • A review of the Working Holiday Program, and in particular the 1-year extension for regional work

There were a host of changes recommended for the 457 visa program:

  • Reintroducing indexation of the minimum salary for 457 holders (TSMIT)
  • Removing exemptions from labour market testing for professionals and associate professionals applying for 457 visas
  • Requiring 457 employers to hire an Australian tertiary graduate for each 457 employee sponsored in a professional occupation
  • Requiring employers sponsoring trades workers to have apprentices represent at least 25% of the workforce
  • A training levy of $4000 per sponsored 457 worker

Whilst it is not yet clear how many of the recommendations are likely to be implemented, the message is clear. Employers hiring temporary visa holders will face higher levels of scrutiny and compliance obligations going forward, and possibly changes to the visa categories allowing people to work on temporary visas.