How to keep your talent amid Coronavirus visa changes
The Australian Government is encouraging the 2.17 million temporary visa holders to go back to their home countries. This is aimed at skilled workers, international students, visitors and work and holidays visa holders who can't support themselves in the next six months.
The main reason for the sudden change in policy is to allow the Government to focus on Australians and permanent residents.
The Government already started shifting the focus to Australians in regards to employment and financial support.
For example - International students have recently been allowed to work beyond the 40 hours per fortnight limit to help stocking shelves in major supermarkets. However, from May 1st they are back to 40 hours to allow Australians to be recruited into these roles.
Similar to the above example, we foresee further Government policy changes to favour Australians over temporary visa holders.
The only exception will be for key industries, such as health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, where temporary visa holders benefit from more flexibility.
What does it mean for employers?
To fill the skills gap in the market, the Government frequently updates the occupation in demand lists for temporary visa holders.
Learning from the above example, where the Department of Home Affairs back paddled on it's decision to extend students' working hours, we anticipate more and more professions to be removed from the occupation lists as unemployment surges to give priority to Australians and Permanent residents.
Therefore, if you employ a temporary visa holder such as - International Student (500 visa), Temporary Post Graduate (485 visa), Work and Holiday (462 visa) or Working Holiday (417 visa) and would like to retain them, you should look into sponsoring them under the Temporary Skilled Shortage visa - 482 work visa.
This allows you to extend their stay for 2 or 4 years depending on their profession and secure their stay in Australia. Keeping in mind the Government doesn't want to rock the boat for businesses who currently employ longer term temporary visa holders.
In other words, if you employ a talented employee, don't wait for their short term visa to expire, proactively seek to transition them to a 482 work visa now.
Why should you act quickly?
If you transition your employees into a 482 work visa now, you have a chance to secure your employee for additional 2 or 4 years before the occupation lists changes.
In a case where your employee's profession is removed from the list before the 482 visa was granted - he will not have a pathway to continue working for you legally.
What if your employee is already on a 482 work visa?
In this case, you should probably want to discuss a transition to a Permanent Resident visa with him. This will allow him to secure his stay in Australia without being dependent on frequent changes in policies.
Another huge benefit for your employee is the access to Medicare and Centrelink which will save him a lot of money down the track.
There are many avenues to transition from temporary work visa 482 into a Permanent Resident visa including General Skilled Migration, Employer Nomination Scheme (either Direct Entry stream or Transitional stream), Distinguish Talent and more.
Each pathway has different requirements and success rate, this is where consultation with an experienced migration agent will go a long way.
Keep in mine that entire process will take no less than a year so you better start sooner rather than later.
"In other words, if you employ a talented employee, don't wait for their short term visa to expire, proactively seek to transition them to a 482 work visa now."
Benefits to employers and temporary visa holders
Those visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off, will maintain their visa validity and businesses will have the opportunity to extend their visa as per standard arrangements.
Businesses will also be able to reduce the visa holder working hours without the person breaching their visa condition.
This is a win for both parties enabling employers to cut their expenses without impacting the employee's visa validity.
Financial support for employed temporary visa holders
At the moment, the Australian Government also wants to see the employed temporary visa holders keeping their jobs, so it allows them to get access to financial aids and in some cases shows flexibility in their visa conditions.
Students who have been in Australia longer than 12 months and suffering from financial hardship will be able to access their Australian superannuation.
Visa holders who have been stood down, but not laid off will also be able to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation this financial year.
Temporary graduate visa holders (Subclass 485) will also be able to access their Australian superannuation if needed.
You are lucky
If you work in these critical sectors: Health, aged and disability care, agriculture and food processing, and childcare - some limited flexibility will be provided for these temporary visa holders.
Working holiday visa holders who are working in these critical sectors will be exempt from the six-month work limitation with the one employer and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these crucial sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
International students working in aged care as nurses have had these hours extended.
More to come on this topic in the following announcements.
Moran Shultz, Founder of LifeinAus helped many companies retain their valuable talent in Australia in times when legislation changes rapidly and time is of an essence.