Friday, 9th of October 2015

 

Issue #1 October

 

TOP STORY

Buying the right to migrate to Australia
 
 

ISSUES OF THIS MONTH

Proposal to let migrants buy their way into Australia a 'retrograde step'

 

Restauranteur Faces Underpayment Claim

 

The reason why so many student visas are cancelled or refused

 

Rower highlights the difficulties of the English test for visa applicants in Australia

 

Foreign students in Australia warned about illegal wages being offered for part time work

 

Family and leisure life in Australia rated as great by expats

 
 

Proposal to let migrants buy their way into Australia a 'retrograde step'

A proposal to sell the right to migrate to Australia is a retrograde step that would threaten social cohesion, create a "bidding war" and disadvantage the nation in the global skills market, critics say.

Federal government agencies, the business lobby and ethnic groups have panned the notion of a fee-based immigration system being examined by the Productivity Commission, under which a willingness to pay would determine who comes to Australia.

Proponents say it would generate government revenue, allow for tax cuts and lower the cost to taxpayers of administering the immigration system.

The government established the inquiry in a deal with Senator David Leyonhjelm. He has previously nominated $50,000 as a possible charge for entry to Australia, saying a fee-based system had been proposed by Nobel prize-winning economist Gary Becker.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in May the measure was not government policy and was unlikely to be adopted. But Senator Leyonhjelm was confident its logic would "penetrate government ranks".

In a submission, the Department of Social Services said imposing a fee, rather than criteria such as work skills, family connections or humanitarian needs, risks undermining public confidence that migration was being managed "in Australia's best economic and social interests".

It said a skills-based approach helped meet the needs of Australian industry and employers.

International competition for skilled migrants was high and a hefty visa charge meant highly skilled people "are likely to look to migration to competitor countries, to our detriment", the department warned.

A shift to fee-based entry meant those who cannot pay may have no means of being reunited with family members in Australia, which "is likely to have a discernable impact on settlement outcomes and social cohesion," it said.

The Business Council of Australia said charging new migrants high prices reduced their capacity to spend once they settled in Australia. It said the national interest was best served by selecting a mix of young skilled workers, family and humanitarian migrants "to meet our long-term economic and population needs".

Migration Council Australia said a price-based system would be "a retrograde step" and create a "bidding war" that would undermine the economic contribution of migration programs.

"Willingness to pay is not a predictor of … willingness to contribute socially or economically," it said.

The South Australian government and the federal government's Australian Multicultural Council also expressed concern.

In a submission, Senator Leyonhjelm's Liberal Democratic Party suggested a tariff system would attract migrants who pay higher taxes which, combined with the fee itself, would reduce the tax burden on others and enable more government services.

The LDP said the government could pay or provide a loan for the fee for migrants it was keen to attract. It said family reunions should be selected according to a person's willingness to pay. While some may find this concept "unpleasant ... the accumulation of money is not an indication that a person is less worthy" of family reunification and the current system had hidden financial costs, it said.

The commission's draft report is due in mid-November.

 
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Restauranteur Faces Underpayment Claim

Restaurant faces underpayment claim

As a business owner and Employer in the hospitality industry, it can get very busy. Not only are you ensuring your customers are receiving the best products and service, you are also ensuring that all shifts are covered and the business is returning a profit. Due to the fast paced and hectic environment of the hospitality industry, when an employee raises issues you may not immediately address those issues.

This recently occurred to an Employer who owned a restaurant had an employee raise issues in relation to alleged underpayments. The employer was simply 'too busy' at the time to address the employees allegations immediately. The employee then went on extended sick leave and queried whether they were being paid correctly while on sick leave. The employer had doubts as to the genuineness of the sick leave however was unsure on how to address the matter.

By the time the employer sought assistance with the matter it had escalated to the point the employee was making demands for a pay rise and in relation to their terms and conditions of employment whilst remaining off work on sick leave. This left the employer in a precarious position and they were unsure of how to address the multiple issues that were now present with the employee.

The employer did reiterate to the employee that any issues concerning their rate of pay and terms and conditions of employment will be addressed when they are fit enough to return to work. However, the issue in relation to the alleged underpayment should have been dealt with at the time it was first raised.

In this situation there are two main issues:

  1. Alleged underpayment of wages; and
  2. Sick leave.

This situation may have been avoided by taking the following steps as outlined below.

1. Underpayment of wages

To avoid the risk of underpaying your employees you are obliged to identify the Modern Award that applies to their employment, their corresponding rate of pay and the conditions of their employment. In addition, each year an employer should confirm the rate of pay remains correct in the event the Fair Work Commission announce a pay rate rise.

If the employer was aware of the correct Modern Award that applied and the rate of pay when the alleged underpayment was first mentioned, the employer would be in a better position to present evidence that they were being paid correctly. As this matter was left unanswered by the employer other issues arose and the situation then became more complex to deal with.

The issue of underpayment of wages is especially topical at the moment with the wide ranging investigation into 7-Eleven Franchisees finding that many of their employees were vastly underpaid.

2. Sick leave

In this case the primary issue was the doubt about the genuineness of the employee's illness. While each case should be dealt with according to the circumstances present, generally the following steps are best to be taken.

  • An employer may request evidence (to satisfy a reasonable person) of the illness by requesting a medical certificate;
  • If there is doubts about the genuineness of the illness and especially if there has been extended sick leave taken, an employer can request the employee see a medical practitioner of the employer's choice for a second opinion;
  • The employer should provide the medical practitioner with a list of the core duties the employee is required to perform;
  • The medical practitioner should set out whether the employee can perform the core duties or the inherent requirements of the employee's job; and
  • If the medical practitioner finds the employee is unable to perform the inherent requirement of their job the employer may be able to dismiss the employee on this basis.

Extra vigilance is always required in dismissing an employee who has been diagnosed with a medical condition, particularly when other matters such as an allegation of underpayment of wages has recently been made. In light of this, employers should always seek proper legal advice prior to undertaking performance management and/or dismissing an employee.

If you are unsure of your obligations in relation to whether you are paying the correct rate of pay to your employees or if you are concerned about an employee taking extended sick leave NB Lawyers offer a free 20 minute consultation to all Employers.

For further information please contact,

Jonathan Mamaril
Principal & Director, NB Lawyers
07 3876 5111
jonathanm@nb-lawyers.com.au
LAWYERSFOREMPLOYERS.COM.AU

 

The reason why so many student visas are cancelled or refused

Reasons for Australian Student visa cancellations

Recent statistics indicate that some 87% of student visa applications are not made through registered migration agents. This could very well mean that unregistered education brokers in the currently unregulated education broker industry are lodging a significant number of applications.

It could be a key reason why this year there was a 30% rise in student visa cancellations. Typically, the department of immigration cancels between 8,000 and 9,000 student visas – this year there were 11,000 student visa cancellations.

The visas of 1793 Chinese students were cancelled making them the highest risk group. With 1160 visa cancellations, South Korean students were next, followed in number by students from India, Vietnam and Thailand.

Low-quality education providers, unscrupulous education agents, and the overly complex current student visa framework have been blamed for these large number of visa cancellations.

Only about 13% of 60,000 student visa applications were lodged by migration agents registered with the office of the Migration Agents Registration Authority (OMARA) according to recent figures released by the authority in its latest Migration Agent Activity Report.

One of the key issues highlighted in The Productivity Commision’s report on the problems facing Australia’s $18.1 billion dollar education industry is unregulated education brokers.

The Commission’s report released in April this year, questioned the very extensive use of education brokers by Australian universities and colleges to recruit international students.

The Commission stated that it received "considerable anecdotal evidence that suggested unscrupulous behaviour of agents is an issue, particularly in relation to providing false or misleading advice and information, and the onshore poaching of international students. Many of these concerns were also highlighted by the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption in its recent report."

The report said that commissions paid on a per student basis on admission create incentives for education brokers to maximise the volume of international students, with little regard to the quality of the advice provided to students (affecting student expectations) or the quality and aptitude of the students.

Currently, Australia does not regulate education brokers directly.

Registered Migration Agents (RMAs), remain the only formally regulated advisers for migration to Australia. A high-level of initial training is required to be registered as an RMA. Subsequently, RMAs must undertake ongoing training each year, maintain professional indemnity insurance, and conduct themselves in accordance with the high professional and ethical standards required for continued registration.

 

Rower highlights the difficulties of the English test for visa applicants in Australia

English Test In Australia

The English test is an important part of applying for an Australian visa for people who are not sponsored by an employer and need extra points to secure their goal, but it is being criticised for being too hard.

In particular applicants in trades such as engineering and construction are failing the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) because of a lack of spelling and grammar, according to some migration agents.

The issue is being championed by would be Paralympian rower Kevin Wall, who is originally from Ireland and is seeking to represent Australia in next year’s Paralympics in Rio in Brazil.

Wall, who has cerebral palsy, is Western Australian state champion in his rowing category but has failed the IELTS three times. A qualified mechanic, he moved to Australia in 2011 on a tourist visa and has been seeking an independent permanent visa but fell below qualifying by 10 points.

Wall said that he has to achieve a mark of seven or higher in each of the four sectors of reading, writing, speaking and listening but has failed by half a mark each time and each time in a different band.

According to migration agent Richard Coates, who is originally from Dublin, it is not unusual for tradespeople to have difficulties with IELTS and failing can be demeaning if they come from an English speaking country.

He explained that people who have not got enough points need to pass level seven, which is proficient English, to get 10 points but if they drop down by 0.5 in any of the four bands, they haven’t got the required level, regardless of how well they did in the other three.

He believes that the system is unfair and that entrants should be allowed to combine two bands. He has now written to the Australian government asking for the rules to be changed so that two sittings can be combined.

He is backed by one of the designers of the IELTS. According to David Ingram it was not conceived as an immigration test.

“It concerns me greatly. As a person who’s spent a lot of his life working in the area of testing, it seems to me that it is unethical to be using tests that have been developed for one purpose, for another,” said Ingram.

He too has written to the Australian government as part of a request for submissions to the Productivity Inquiry on migration and warns in his letter that there will be a skills shortage unless skilled migrants are able to choose between a wider range of tests.

 
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Foreign students in Australia warned about illegal wages being offered for part time work

Illegal wages offered to foreign students in Australia

Overseas students, especially those from Chinese speaking communities, are being urged to be vigilant when it comes to finding part time jobs in Australia.

An investigation has found that job adverts aimed at students and temporary foreign workers from China, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Taiwan, are offering jobs below Australia’s minimum wage.

Foreign-Workers-DuskOfficials want them to be aware that being offered a job paying less than the minimum wage of $17.29 an hour is illegal after an investigation found some are being offered as little as $10 an hour.

Little research or official data exists on how many temporary foreign workers and students are employed in Australia, but it is estimated that at the end of last year there were more than 750,000 foreigners in Australia with temporary work rights, mostly on student, working holiday and 457 visas.

These type of visa holders are regarded as being the most vulnerable when it comes to jobs in terms of pay and conditions. An investigation by Fairfax Media and Monash University has found that jobs are commonly advertised on Mandarin language websites at below the legal pay limit.

Indeed, some of the Chinese language advertisements openly admit they are offering ‘black’ work, which signifies it is an illegal wage being offered and the study also found that low payments are being offered across a wide range of low skilled or semi-skilled jobs, particularly restaurant work, which is popular with students.

The investigation even found evidence of workers paid as little as $4 an hour, and networks of middle men who demand extra payments from prospective foreign job seekers to secure work. According to the National Union of Workers (NUW), urgent action needs to be taken to deal with these middle men.

“Labour hire is completely unregulated, all you need is a phone and a spreadsheet to be a labour hire provider,” said Tim Kennedy, the union’s national secretary.

 
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Family and leisure life in Australia rated as great by expats

Leisure and family life in Australia

Australia is a place for expats who are on the lookout for fun leisure activities in their free time and a great family life, according to global research.

Australia outperformed every other country in the leisure options category of the latest quality of life index published annually by InterNations.

Some 95% of expats in the country said that they appreciated the leisure activities and 59% rated facilities as very good. In addition some 92% said that they enjoy the weather and climate.

The country also scored highly in terms of the opportunity to travel. The transport infrastructure was rated positively by 67% of expats, slightly higher than the global average of 66%.

The vast majority of respondents rated political stability, personal safety, and peacefulness favourably at 85%, 90%, and 94%, respectively, and overall, five in six survey participants in Australia said they are satisfied with their life abroad in general terms.

Australia also rated high in terms of feeling welcome with the country ranking 10 out of 64 globally. Some 81% found it relatively easy to get used to the new culture, and 72% felt at home while 27% felt so well integrated that they now have Australian citizenship, while around the world only 10% have done so for their respective country of residence.

The general friendliness of the population was rated positively by 84% of expats, and 79% confirmed that the friendly attitude of the local population towards foreign residents well above the global average of 67%.

Making new friends in general was not considered difficult by 63% of expats and 51% said they found making local friends easy and 81% found learning the local language easy.

Children’s health and safety in Australia was rated favourably by 100% of expat parents and 96% confirmed that their kids are generally well, and not a single person rated their family life negatively.

Furthermore, 97% favoured the leisure activities for kids, and only 2% were generally unhappy with the local attitude towards families with children, putting Australia as the top country for family and wellbeing.

Childcare options were liked by 71% of expat parents, but only 40% considered that their availability sufficient, and only 26% found childcare affordable. However, the vast majority, some 92% of expat parents, were overall satisfied with the available education choices. Some 73% found education options generally numerous and easily available but some 38% were concerned about the cost. But the quality of education was considered overall high by 72% of expat parents.

Although Australia ranked 15th in the working abroad section, 66% said that they are generally satisfied with their job and 64% found their career prospects appealing. Additionally, 59% rated their job security positively and 80% overall approved of the state of the Australian economy.

In the work-life balance category, Australia ranked tenth and 71% said that they are content with their working hours, which isn’t surprising considering they are significantly lower than the global average at 42.3 compared to 44.9 hours per week for those working full time. Altogether, 68% said they were generally satisfied with their work-life balance in Australia.

 
 

We hope that you have found the information in this issue of our newsletter to be enriching and useful. Stay tuned for our next publication and if you would like to talk to us directly, please do not hesitate to email service@noborders-group.com. In addition, if you would like your contact details updated or removed from this distribution list or you know someone who would like to be added, please email us on the same address.

"The only limits to being the person you truly want to be are your own self-limiting beliefs and thoughts. In every moment, you have the power to choose your life"

 
 

No Borders Group

Email: service@noborders-group.com
Phone: (+61) 07 3876 4000

 
 

NO BORDERS Universal Migration
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Milton 4064
Queensland
AUSTRALIA