The government has announced the first round of reforms to the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and the Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) to provide easier access for employers to the program, better protect the welfare of these workers and meet the needs of regional Australia.
These changes will deliver immediate improvements, including expanded access to Pacific workers for new and existing employers. A new PALM Scheme Advisory Group will continue to ensure all stakeholders are benefiting from the programs.
- a more streamlined single processing application process
- increasing the regions in Australia that can recruit these workers
- increasing the validity period for labour market testing from 6 months to12 months
- doubling recruitment caps for SWP approved employers with a good record and financial capacity
- enabling accommodation businesses like hotels and resorts to employ SWP workers across rural and regional Australia
- allowing PLS workers who have spent 3 years in Australia to continue working for an additional 12 months while COVID-19 travel restrictions remain in place
- continuing the existing COVID-related flexibilities which allow redeployment of workers to another approved employer, subject to labour market testing and welfare considerations, and the ability to extend their stay onshore
- removing the upper age limit of 45 years for PLS workers, aligning with the age criteria for the SWP, to allow all workers over the age of 21 to participate
Further reforms to address portability and reduce red tape to be announced later this year.
Source: Migration Institute of Australia