Australia Clarifies Terms Of New Working Visa Entry Option

By Dex Tennyson, for 02 September, 2014

Australia's Deputy Immigration Minister, Michaelia Cash, has denied reports that claim that the introduction of Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMAs) will see overseas workers in parts of the country being paid less than Australian employees for the same work.

Cash said that DAMAs will stimulate local economies by providing business and job opportunities in areas experiencing labor and skills shortages. Where employers within an agreement area are unable to recruit Australian workers, DAMAs can support them to supplement their workforce with skilled overseas workers, she said.

The announcement of the plan had raised fears that overseas workers would be lower paid, which would encourage businesses to offer jobs to overseas persons rather than Australian workers.

The minimum salary threshold (or TSMIT) for the 457 visa, which is AUD53,900, applies to workers under DAMAs.

TSMIT is the entry-level salary for the 457 program and is well above the award wage for Australians. Under DAMAs an up to 10 per cent salary concession would only apply to the TSMIT – so the minimum wage could be AUD48,510. "Even with a discount applied overseas workers will be paid well above the relevant award for the jobs they do," Cash said.

"DAMAs are designed to ensure employers recruit Australians as a first priority and prioritize initiatives and strategies to facilitate the recruitment and retention of Australian workers. Contrary to reports in this morning's Australian newspaper, no-one employed under the DAMA guidelines will be paid less than the relevant award paid to an Australian worker."

Cash made clear that overseas workers must be qualified and skilled, and that employers must be able to show that they have sought to recruit Australian workers within the previous six months. Further, employers participating in a DAMA must meet subclass-457 sponsorship obligations, including training benchmarks.

The Minister further explained that any DAMA request must be endorsed by the relevant State or Territory Government before the Immigration Department considers an application, and that unions, businesses, and community stakeholders must be consulted prior to the request. She said that DAMAs will be very closely monitored to ensure that they do not adversely impact the local workforce.

Cash said that, even after the concession, overseas workers on the new minimum will still be paid well above the relevant award for the jobs they do. She underscored that no worker would be paid less than the relevant award paid to an Australian worker, and equally that the terms and conditions for overseas workers must be no less favorable than for Australian employees.

Tags: Business | Training | Employees | Australia | Expats | Immigration | Immigration |


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