Better Aligned Foreign Worker Schemes

The Morrison Government announced on the 14th of Sept 2021 the first stage of reforms to Australia’s labour mobility programs – the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) – which will make the programs easier to access, protect worker welfare, and better meet the workforce needs of regional Australia.

The centrepiece of the reforms is a single streamlined process for both the PLS and SWP offering more flexibility and less red tape. Eligible approved employers will also have their status recognised for both programs.

The Pacific Australia Labour Mobility ( PALM) website (palmscheme.gov.au) has been established for employers to apply to join the PLS and SWP through a single application.

In addition, both programs have become more aligned and flexible to better respond to needs of employers and workers by:

1.  Allowing PLS workers to be recruited in more locations across regional Australiaby reducung postcode restrictions to better align with the SWP

2. Increasing the validity period for labour market testing from 6 months to 12 months, reducing red tape for employers.

3. Doubling recruitment caps for SWP approved employers with a good record that also have financial capacity to support additional worker arrivals.

4. Enabling accommodation businesses like hotels and resorts to employ SWP workers to support peak seasons in tourism across rural and regional Australia.

5. Allowing PLS workers who have spent three years in Australia to continue working for an additional 12 months while Covid -19 travel restrictions remain in place.

6. Continuing the existing Covid – 19 related flexibilities which allow redepolyments of workers to another approved worker, subject to market testing and welfare considerations, and the ability to extend their stay onshore.

7. Removing the upper age limit of 45 years for PLS , aligning with the age criteria for the SWP, to allow all workers over the age of 21 to participate.

For further info about these reforms, including the consultation summary report, can be found at palmscheme.gov.au