Debate continues over rates of pay for foreign workers on 457 visas in Australia

by Ray Clancy on January 22, 2016

in Jobs in Australia

Employer groups in Australia do not want the income threshold for 457 skilled worker visas to be increased beyond inflation.

The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes that employers in regional areas should be able to hire skilled foreigners on salaries at a discount to the threshold, so long as this was in line with Australian market rates for people in that regional area.

Foreign Workers DuskThe ACCI is also concerned that there is a lot of misinformation around that suggest that foreign workers take jobs from Australians.

It comes as a review of the Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold is expected to be published by the end of April, which is expected to give recommendations on the current threshold of $53,900.

As well as looking at the appropriate level for the threshold, the review is also examining the roles of indexation and regional concessions for the threshold.

There have been calls for the threshold to be increased to $57,000, but this was criticised as it would price some rural areas out of the scheme.

The ACCI believes that the threshold should stay at its current level, though there were good arguments for indexation to inflation. But, for regional areas, there was an argument for a discount because of the difference in the metropolitan and regional labour markets.

“The higher you lift the threshold the less businesses and positions would be eligible to have someone come in on a 457. And that creates real economic problems not just for the business who can’t find a skilled worker, but for the regional community who may not have the services available to them because the skilled worker is not available at the price that the region can afford,” said a spokesman.

It is argued that employers should not be able to pay foreign staff less than what equivalent Australian workers would be paid in a particular region. At the moment, areas hit by skills shortages such as in the Northern Territory can seek a designated area migration agreement.

Under these agreements employers can seek concessions of up to 10% below the threshold, so long as the cost of living there is lower than the national average and foreign workers are paid the same as Australians.

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