The restrictions on hiring foreign workers have become tighter with the Senate passing Labor’s 457 foreign worker visa scheme.
Tabled by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in March of this year, the crackdown will task employers with proving they cannot find an Australian citizen with commensurate skills and experience before hiring a 457 visa holder.
The bill was slammed by the Greens and Coalition for having ‘tinges’ of xenophobia, and sections of the business community have said it is yet another hurdle to hiring staff.
Under the new legislation, employers will have to provide evidence to Fair Work inspectors (if requested) that a fair and equal opportunity hiring process was unable to locate a suitable Australian employee.
According to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (IMMI) the purpose of the Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa program is to allow employers to fill short to medium term skill shortages by recruiting qualified workers from outside of Australia when they cannot find the same skilled workers locally.
“Mid-way through 2012, the department identified that the subclass 457 program was growing at a record rate and that a significant component of this growth has been in industries and geographical regions that do not appear to be experiencing skills shortages,” the department has stated.
The department does not believe the changes will in any way adversely affect employers.
“The reforms to the subclass 457 visa program improve the integrity of the program without adversely impacting on businesses who are using the program to fill genuine skill shortages,” it said.
A full summary of the changes to the 457 visa program can be found here.