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Utilising the new Labour Agreement for the Hospitality sector

Jamie Lingham, our founder and Global Immigration Leader of Absolute Immigration provides the hospitality sector with an outline of what the new Labour Agreement entails and how to utilise it.

In late April, the Federal Government announced an industry-specific labour agreement for accommodation and hospitality providers, which was an initiative of the Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA). It was designed to give Australia a competitive edge as we open up again to visitors and address the mass-exodus of hospitality staff due to COVID lockdowns and our closed borders.

The Hotel and Accommodation sector Labour Agreement is a formal agreement between the Australian Government and eligible employers, allowing the recruitment of overseas workers in occupations that do not qualify for permanent residency under standard TSS (482) visa program.

This is a significant step forward for the industry, and things are definitely heading in the right direction, but the criteria is limited to which businesses are eligible to sponsor applicants and access this agreement.

Businesses can apply for the five-year agreement allowing visas to be granted under the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS Visa), Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) visa or the Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (SESR) (Provisional) visa.

The eligible businesses have been defined as hotels (offering accommodation) and accommodation businesses seeking to sponsor employees in the following roles:

  • Café or Restaurant Manager (141111)
  • Hotel or Motel Manager (141311)
  • Hotel Service Manager (431411)
  • Accommodation and Hospitality Manager NEC. (141999)
  • Cook (351411)
  • Chef (351311)
  • Pastry Cook (351112)

 

The Labour agreement is currently temporary and will be reviewed in 12 months with the view to make this an industry specific agreement with specific concessions. In many cases bringing in overseas workers can be time consuming, so unless the Government prioritises these applications, there’s a high likelihood it could still be some months before it yields results for Australian business. It is clear that hotels and pubs with accommodation who currently bringing in overseas workers will need to use this labour agreement as a way to compete to attract and retain a range of roles, particularly in metropolitan areas

Critically, the Agreement will provide a pathway to permanent residency for foreign workers, significantly benefiting businesses in attracting job applicants. The age limit for this Agreement has been increased to 55, which means Australian hospitality businesses can attract a much wider cohort of highly experienced applicants.

It also makes it more economical and gives greater stability and longevity for employers who have paid to recruit overseas workers.

While it’s positive news for many businesses, it can be a daunting task to navigate the process properly to secure existing employees and attract much-needed staff. Before you even start the process, there are a few checks and balances to fulfil:

1. Does your business meet the eligibility criteria to sponsor a foreign worker? Check here to see if you meet the requirements. Perhaps unintended, but very welcome I’m sure, the business definitions by the Government also include pubs with accommodation.

2. Also, check the role/s you are looking to fill is on the list of eligible positions (see the list earlier in this article.)

3. Can you demonstrate genuine difficulty filling the roles you need? Have you advertised for the position for 28-days in the last four months on recognised recruitment sites like Seek, Jora, Job Search and Job Active? Regardless of where you advertise, JobActive is one of the compulsory requirements.

4. Have the roles you have been advertising offered a competitive and comparable market rate? It’s all very well to advertise for 28 days, but you also need to ensure you are offering a competitive package and ensure the lack of applications is not due to adverse working conditions and low pay.

5. Set aside time – If there are genuinely no local people available applying for your role/s, you must ensure you set aside plenty of time and have a lot of patience to navigate a lengthy and arduous process of negotiating a labour agreement with the Government.

I must stress that it’s not a fast process or silver bullet that will quickly resolve your staff shortages as it takes time to put the application together. Then there’s another wait while the department processes the application which is currently taking six to 12 months to process after the application has been lodged. I expect that time to be longer than average, in light of the recent announcement, especially if there’s a tsunami of applications to process. Hopefully, they will prioritise the hospitality industry on the back of the announcement.

An experienced Migration Agent can help you work through all your application faster and more accurately, minimise the requirement to re-work it later, and maximise your chances of success. While we have little control of the timeline once it’s in government hands, I like to think we can make the red tape at your end much more manageable.

Businesses considering importing foreign workers can reach out to Absolute Immigration. If you mention this article, I would be pleased to offer an obligation-free initial consultation to help you understand the process further.

Ultimately the new Labour Agreement for Accommodation and hospitality business is just the boost we need to jumpstart our industry and ensure consistent supply of skilled and experienced workers.

For further details about the new Labour Agreement and how it affects your business, contact our team of immigration experts: aisupport@absoluteimmigration.com

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