COVID-19 Update: Sponsored Employees

Advice for business sponsors who sponsor employees on temporary work visas

Businesses in a range of industries are feeling the impact of COVID-19. The measures in place to reduce the spread of the virus has brought physical distancing and lockdown. These measures, while necessary, have the side-effects of forcing many businesses to shut their doors.

While many will want to maintain their staff, paying salaries will become even harder with no trade preventing income. We’ve already witnessed thousands of layoffs in the airline industry, the events sector, the arts and entertainment industry, the tourism sector and, in recent days the hospitality, retail and hair and beauty sectors.

Any employer will be reluctant to let go of great staff. This is no less true for business sponsors who employ a temporary skills shortage 482 visa holder. So what can business sponsors do?

Business sponsors have a few options. The first is to consider the leave entitlements, such as holidays or personal leave, still owing to your sponsored employee. Temporary skilled workers have the same work rights and leave entitlements as any other Australian worker, be they citizens or permanent residents.

Leave without Pay – The subclass 482 visa’s Condition 8107

The subclass 482 visa also has an extended leave without pay condition known as condition 8107. This entitles a 482 visa-holder employed by a business sponsor to take unpaid leave for up to 3 months. This would enable 482 visa holders to lawfully remain in Australia. During this time the temporary skilled worker would still be an employee of the business sponsor.

Standing down a sponsored employee

Having invested in sponsoring an employee from overseas for a 482 visa, some employers will face the difficult decision to stand down their sponsored employee.

When this happens, the business sponsor will need to inform the immigration department.

Like all other Australian workers, the process in making a temporary skilled worker redundant should follow the measures set out by Fair Work Ombudsman.

Business Sponsor Obligations

Business sponsors, in keeping with their obligations, should be ready to cover the travel costs back to the home country of their sponsored employee, as and when the overseas skilled worker is able to leave Australia.

Some temporary workers in Australia will be concerned about how they can lawfully leave the country when the borders are closed and their visa is due to expire.

If a temporary worker’s visa is about to expire, they should seek advice as soon possible.

It has been possible for temporary visa holders to apply for a bridging visa in record time – a process that usually takes 28 days is taking less than 24 hours in some instances. However, the sooner your migration agent can request an extension, the better. At the end of the day, what matters most is that all visa-holders are able to remain and depart Australia lawfully.

This will allow your sponsored employee to remain in Australia lawfully and exit Australia lawfully when the borders open again.

When a temporary skilled worker leaves Australia, they can claim the superannuation they have saved during the time they have worked here. Temporary Skill Shortage subclass 482 visa holders, 457 visa holders, 494 visa holders as well as 417 working holiday makers can all claim back their superannuation when they leave Australia for the last time.

If you are a business sponsor employing a sponsored employee, or you are a temporary skilled worker, please feel welcome to contact us with your query. We’re here to help.

Call 1300 794 680. We’re open 7 days a week.

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