What is a labour agreement?

A Labour Agreement (LA) is a formal arrangement between an Australian employer with the Department of Home Affairs to allow approved businesses to bring in skilled overseas workers. The business will have to show that there is a skill shortage in the Australian labour market for such skills and the standard temporary/permanent visa programs (eg Subclass 457, 186 or 187) do not cater for such skills.

The LA allows an Australian business to negotiate a specified number of positions for overseas workers which directly reflects and responds to the identified and emerging shortages within the Australian labour market.

LA also allows the business to negotiate concessions as to Skill level, English language requirement and salary levels required for the workers.

There are 4 types of Labour Agreements

1) Company Specific Labour Agreement

This is a direct negotiation between the business and the Government for occupations that are not within any of the industry templates below.

2) Industry Labour Agreement

Currently, there are 9 industry templates in place;

On-hire industry
Meat industry (for meat processing establishments)
Minister of Religion
Restaurant (Fine-Dining) (for Cooks and Chefs)
Fast Food Industry (for Retail Manager or Retail Supervisors)
Dairy Industry (for Senior Dairy Cattle Farm Worker)
Pork Industry (for Senior Stockperson (Piggery))
Snow Sports (for snow sports operators)

3) Designated Area Migration Agreement (DAMA)

Similar to Company Specific Labour Agreement, the DAMA is for businesses in designated areas and it requires the endorsement from the Designated Area Representatives

4) Deed of Project Agreement – PA

Project companies can access a project deed of agreement to address situations where facing a genuine shortage of suitably skilled Australian workers during the construction phase of infrastructure or resource development projects.

How to access Labour Agreement?

Businesses will have to submit a strong business case to Department of Home Affairs to assess the agreement suitability such as:

– labour market need
– current government policy or programs
– requests for concessions for lower minimum salary level, skilled occupations, English competency level and whether the employer was previously assessed as having poor commitment to employment and training of Australians.
Further to providing a strong business case, businesses must include information on how the company will undertake the following:

– Ensure that the variation to the English requirement will not pose a workplace health and safety risk;
– Ensure access to workplace relations protections;
– Ensure overseas workers can participate in the community;
– Ensure overseas workers can transfer skills to Australian workers;
– Ensure that the English language skills of overseas workers are able to be improved.
The service standard for negotiating a LA is approximately 3 months. However, the LA may take 9 months or more to finalise if there is no template available. An approved LA is usually for a 3 year term unless varied.