The Australian Government announced on 21 August 2020that the Commonwealth, states and territories have agreed to arrangements to allow targeted recruitment under the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).
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This announcement builds upon visa changes the Australian Government announced in April to allow temporary workers in Australia to extend their stay and support critical industries. The announcement, complements a trial in the Northern Territory to address labour shortages affecting mango farmers, and is another measure to help Australia’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Workers from participating countries in the Pacific and Timor-Leste, will enter Australia in a controlled way to support critical industries in rural and regional Australia. States and territories will opt in to participate in the arrangements and will coordinate the recruitment of workers, subject to advice from their respective chief health officers.
Stringent health requirements will be in place to ensure that recruitments do not compromise the health and safety of Australians. The workers will serve a 14-day quarantine period in line with specific state or territory requirements and must return a negative COVID-19 test before leaving the quarantine facilities and starting work.
Industries, in consultation with state and territory governments, will determine which approved employers under the SWP and PLS will participate. The Approved Employers must meet SWP and PLS recruitment criteria, including:
- robust labour market testing, ensuring Australian workers are considered first
- net financial benefit to the workers
- appropriate approved accommodation arrangements for the workers
- appropriate workplace health and safety procedures, including a COVID-19 management plan approved by the state and territory governments.