Labour agreements enable approved businesses to sponsor overseas workers when there is a demonstrated need that cannot be met in the Australian labour market and standard temporary or permanent migration arrangements are not appropriate.
Labour agreements are developed between the Australian Government, represented by the Department, and employers. They are generally in effect for three years and might have additional terms and conditions, because labour agreements provide a variation to standard migration requirements.
Employers are required to have made recent, genuine efforts to recruit, employ or engage Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents. They are also required to consult or make genuine efforts to consult industry stakeholders, including relevant trade unions and peak industry bodies when developing their agreement. Labour agreements are the only migration pathway for semi-skilled labour.
There are four types of labour agreements:
- designated area migration agreements (DAMA)
- project agreements
Company-specific labour agreements
A company specific labour agreement is developed directly with an employer and will be considered only where a genuine skills or labour shortage for an occupation exists which is not already provided for in an industry labour agreement, or relevant project or designated area migration agreement. The terms and conditions of a company-specific agreement are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Industry labour agreements
An industry labour agreement provides fixed terms and conditions agreed to by the Minister in consultation with key industry stakeholders, specific to an industry sector. An industry agreement might be considered if the Department has received a number of similar submissions from an industry and there is evidence of ongoing labour shortages within that industry. When an industry labour agreement is in place, no further concessions can be considered, other than the concessions written into the industry agreement.
There are currently nine industry agreements in place:
- fast food
- restaurant (fine dining)
- snow sport
- minister of religion.
Designated area migration agreements
A designated area migration agreement (DAMA) provides flexibility for states, territories or regions to respond to their unique economic and labour market conditions through an agreement-based framework. Under the DAMA framework employers in areas experiencing skills and labour shortages can sponsor skilled and semi-skilled overseas workers. DAMAs are designed to ensure employers recruit Australians as a first priority and prioritise initiatives and strategies to facilitate the recruitment and retention of Australian workers.
Project agreements allow infrastructure or resource development projects experiencing genuine skills or labour shortages access to temporary skilled and specialised semi-skilled temporary overseas workers through the subclass 457 visa. Project agreements are designed to complement existing Australian Government initiatives to address skill and labour shortages by ensuring that shortages do not create constraints on major projects and jeopardise Australian jobs.
Project companies with projects endorsed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade under the China-Australia Investment Facilitation Arrangement (IFA) can request a project agreement.