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Labor pushes for 457 visa shake-up

7 July 2016 - 12:18pm

Australia has a huge number of visitors coming to our shores - both tourists and those who are looking to live and work temporarily and permanently. A huge part of this process is the use of 457 visas, which allow Australian businesses to sponsor overseas workers and bring their talents to an Australian enterprise.

In theory, it is a win-win situation for both parties. The business gets a wider talent pool, while the employee gets an opportunity that they may otherwise not have been able to achieve.

However, the system does have its flaws. There are already rules in place to help mitigate the effect of these new arrivals on existing systems, such as the private health insurance that is a requirement to live and work under a 457 visa. Despite this, there are still rumblings that current legislation is not enough to protect the Australian economy and the 457 visa holders themselves from the wider effects that the visas create.

While it's unlikely that the requirements for mandatory health insurance for 457 holders is going to change, the Labor Party is pushing for some other significant changes that could affect anyone looking to work in Australia coming from overseas.

Could your working plans be affected by the new proposal?Could your working plans be affected by the new proposal?

The proposal proper

Labor's new proposals, which will come into effect if the party were to take office, would introduce more stringent requirements for employers in particular, as well as protections for 457 workers.

Firstly, before being able to bring anybody over internationally, an employer would be required to ensure that the position is advertised to local Australians first, for at least a minimum of four weeks, as well as a complete ban on advertisements that specifically target overseas workers and exclude Australians.

Secondly, the proportion of a particular business workforce made up of 457 visa holders will have an effect on the cost of future applications. For example, any business that has over 50 per cent of their workforce under a 457 visa will be expected to pay more than double than that of a business with less than 25 per cent.

Finally, following in the footsteps of recent failures from major international companies in regards to the under-payment of their workers, there will be education for migrant workers on knowing their rights in Australia, as well as Local Organisation Outreach measures and more accountability for worker exploitation in general. This could well make it easier for 457 visa holders to keep on track with their health insurance payments, making them safer and protected not just at work but in their new home as well.

Labor has described how current legislation doesn't afford enough protection to workers.Labor has described how current legislation doesn't afford enough protection to workers.

The consistency of health insurance

It's the first step to protecting the people of Australia, regardless of their origin.

Overall, Labor describes the policy as delivering "a temporary work visa system for Australia that prioritises jobs for local workers and addresses the exploitation of temporary workers".

However, regardless of these major changes coming into effect, what is highly unlikely is the adjustment of the the health insurance criteria required for 457 visa holders.

While it may be tempting to simply tick this prerequisite off with the cheapest insurance you can find, it is far wiser to invest in a quality plan that will protect you against both the expected and unexpected. It's the first step to protecting the people of Australia, regardless of their origin, against increasing medical costs as well as everyday illnesses.

If you are looking to get the right insurance for your visa conditions or are simply seeking out a fresh plan for new work circumstances, make sure you get in touch with the team at HICA. Whether you're originally from Australia or are a new visitor to our shores, we can help you find suitable insurance. Give us a call on 1300 44 22 01 or +61 3 9439 9888 from overseas.