Business may be forced to pay more for 457 workers

Businesses could be forced to offer higher wages for workers on 457 visas based on market rates, rather than minimum salary levels, under new Government proposals.

Businesses could be forced to offer higher wages for workers on 457 visas based on market rates, rather than minimum salary levels, under new Government proposals.

In a review chaired by industrial relations commissioner Barbara Deegan, it is proposed companies must also maintain income protection insurance for workers on 457 visas.

Currently, the minimum salary levels for 457 workers are $43,440 and $59,480 for IT workers. These would be scrapped in favour of paying market rates for workers earning under $100,000.

“It is apparent that the application of the minimum salary level has not resulted in visa holders universally receiving salaries or wages equivalent to those received by Australian workers performing the same work, even where employed in the same workplaces,” the report argues.

Immigration Minister Chris Evans says the Government is “closely assessing the report, and decisions to implement individual recommendations will be taken as part of the budget process”.

Council of Small Business Australia chair Bob Stanton says he is puzzled by the move.

“We’re in such a shortage of skilled workers at present, that I can’t see it making any difference to either party – the employee or employer. We have to pay very good money, very good salaries to attract skilled workers. So scrapping the minimum – I don’t see that having any benefit.”

Mary Hicks, education and training director for the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, warns any recommendations implemented must be flexible.

“The report actually provides a range of options, and it’s true that the MSL hasn’t been working well from anybody’s point of view,” she says. “As long as we’ve got some flexibility to consider individual circumstances, it should be okay.”

The recommendations come as Department of Immigration figures show fewer Australian employers are hiring workers on 457 visas.

The numbers show an 8.7% drop in sponsorship applications by employers from the previous month, along with a 3% drop in the number of applications actually lodged.

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