HOW to use Labour Agreements to Address your Labour Shortages

08 Dec


As an Australian employer, you may find yourself in a situation where you need overseas workers whose occupations are not on any specified occupation list, or they do not meet certain regular requirements for sponsored visas. In these cases, you should consider a Labour Agreement.

A Labour Agreement is used when an employer needs workers whose occupations are not on any specified occupation list, or, they do not meet certain regular requirements for the sponsored visas (such as age, English language skills etc).

Some examples of past successful Labour Agreement applications are:

  • A company in northern Australia needed train drivers (who are not on any relevant occupation list). A Successful Labour Agreement allowed just over 50 train drivers to be granted employer sponsored temporary visas and then permanent residence visas after that.
  • A business wanted to continue to employ a high performing chartered accountant and nominate her for an Employer Nominated Subclass 186 visa. She was older than the age cutoff for the visa (she was over 50), but an approved Labour Agreement allowed the visa to be granted.
  • A well known Chinese restaurant wanted to sponsor a Michelin starred Chinese chef, but he couldn’t meet the English requirement for the visa. A Labour Agreement provided the necessary English language concession to allow the visa grant.

The approval of a Labour Agreement will provide increased access to overseas skilled workers in occupations identified by the industry as being in critical shortage. In this article, we will discuss the benefits of a Labour Agreement and how it can help you access the talent you need for your business.


What is a Labour Agreement?

A Labour Agreement is an agreement between an employer and the Australian government that sets out the conditions under which foreign workers may be employed in Australia. The employer must demonstrate that there is a genuine need for the occupation they want to nominate and that they are unable to fill the positions with Australian workers.

Labour Agreements are designed to supplement other avenues for temporary skilled migration. They provide greater certainty for employers while ensuring that foreign workers are only brought in when absolutely necessary.

A Labour Agreement can only be entered into where a demonstrated skills shortage cannot be met from the Australian labour market and the employer has been unable to source suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizens or permanent residents.

To apply for a Labour Agreement, employers must first conduct labour market testing and prove there are indeed shortages of workers. There is also a fair amount of “paperwork” involved, as well as negotiation with relevant stakeholders including the Minister for Immigration. Labour Agreements last five years.

Labour Agreements can allow the following visa types to be granted;

Temporary Skill Shortage (TSS) (subclass 482) visas (temporary residence)
Employer Nomination Scheme (ENS) (subclass 186) visa (permanent residence)
Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional) (subclass 494) visa (temporary residence)


Types of Labour Agreements


Company Specific Labour Agreements (CSLA)

A CSLA is made directly between the Australian government and your business. Accordingly, as the name suggests, this type of agreement is specific to your business and the DHA (Department of Home Affairs). These agreements are determined on a case-by-case basis.

You may consider requesting a CSLA where:

  • the occupation needed is not on the skilled occupation list;
  • a genuine skill or labour shortage exists for an occupation that is not already covered by an industry labour agreement (See below).


Industry Labour Agreements (ILA)

Industry Labour Agreements (ILA)  cover specific industries and occupations, and the terms and conditions of the agreement are non-negotiable. The DHA produces templates for these LAs

There are eight industries currently covered by ILAs: dairy, fishing, meat, minister of religion, on-hire, pork, hospitality, restaurant (fine dining), and advertising. If your business falls into one of these categories, you may be eligible to apply for an ILA.


Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA)

A DAMA is an agreement between the Australian Government and a state or territory government that identifies skills shortages in a specific region. The Commonwealth Government works with state and territory governments to identify occupations that are in high demand but cannot be filled by locals. If your business is located in a DAMA region and you can’t find suitably qualified Australian workers, you may be able to sponsor skilled overseas workers through the DAMA program, by applying for a DAMA related Labour Agreement.

DAMAs provide greater flexibility than other visa options, and can lead to permanent residency for employees. For example, under a DAMA arrangement, an employer may be able to sponsor an employee on a lower salary than would normally be required, because such concessions are available under this scheme if an employer can show there is a legitimate reason for them.


Benefits of a Labour Agreement

There are numerous benefits of having a Labour Agreement in place, including:

  • access to a wider pool of potential employees, through age, occupation and language concessions;
  •  faster-tracked nomination and visa processing;
  •  the ability to tailor employment conditions to meet business needs;
  • pathways to permanent residence for workers nominated under the Labour Agreement


In Short:

Labour Agreements offer employers access to occupations not available under any other visa program.

A Labour Agreement may be the solution for your business if you are having difficulty finding suitably qualified and experienced Australian citizens or permanent residents.

A Labour Agreement can be extremely beneficial for employers who need to hire foreign workers for occupations not on any specified occupation list or who do not meet certain regular requirements for sponsored visas.


Contact Us

If you think a Labour Agreement could be right for your business, contact one of our migration experts today. We have extensive experience assisting employers with all aspects of Australian immigration law including Labour Agreements, and we can provide expert advice on whether a Labour Agreement is the best option for your business.

And – if you need help finding staff, our trusted partner LORG Talent can assist you with finding the best talent!

Call us! +61 3 9573 5200 (AHWC)  or  +61 3 900 8720 (LORG Talent)


AHWC Immigration Law and Lorg Talent
AHWC Immigration Law and Lorg Talent


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