Find out if your business is eligible to apply for workers through the FNQ DAMA
How businesses are assessed as being eligible
The Cairns Chamber of Commerce considers all of the following factors to determine if a businesses can use the Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA).
If you are operating and located in FNQ:
- businesses must have been actively operating for at least 12 months;
- businesses are financially viable;
- all positions to be filled must be located in Far North Queensland (within the Cairns, Port Douglas, Mareeba, Atherton or Cassowary Coast local government areas - postcodes: 4852, 4854-4856, 4858-4861, 4865, 4868-4873, 4877-4883 and 4885-4886).
What your workforce needs are:
- the Cairns Chamber of Commerce will assess your current and future workforce needs to determine which occupation(s) and concession(s) requested will be endorsed under the FNQ DAMA;
- how many positions can be nominated for each occupation and for each concession;
- an approved endorsement to access the FNQ DAMA is for up to five years, however the endorsement of occupations and numbers of positions to be filled is valid for one year. Businesses seeking to access more overseas workers will need to apply to the DAR for endorsement of occupation(s) and the number of vacant positions each year.
Whether you are unable to employ an Australian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position and whether you are offering terms and conditions of employment that meet market rates:
- businesses need to satisfy the DAR that they are unable to employ an Australian citizen or permanent resident to fill the position, usually through Labour Market Testing (note that Labour Market Testing is a mandatory requirement for Nomination stage, with duration, content and eligible mediums of advertising defined by the Department of Home Affairs - for more information on Labour Market Testing requirements click here);
- businesses need to satisfy the DAR that the terms and conditions of employment are in line with Australian workplace standards - they must be no less than what an Australian would be paid to undertake the same job in the same location.
Whether you can be endorsed to access concessions:
- businesses seeking endorsement for the English or Temporary Skilled Migration Income Threshold concessions will need to demonstrate why the concession(s) are needed for the position(s) they are trying to fill.
If you are seeking endorsement to access the Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA) certain information about your business could be considered to be adverse information.
This may include any investigation, conviction, finding of non-compliance, administrative action or legal proceeding relating to a federal, state or territory law in areas like:
- industrial relations
- occupational health and safety.
What you must disclose
You must provide a declaration confirming that your business or any entity you have been associated with has not been investigated or audited in the past five years on compliance with provisions relating to:
- industrial relations and workplace relations
- occupational health and safety.
What to do if your business has been investigated or audited
If a current or past business has been investigated or audited during the last five years you must provide the Cairns Chamber of Commerce with details on why this happened and on the outcome.
You should explain any mitigating circumstances that you think should be considered.
The following information is required:
- the nature of the adverse information
- how the adverse information arose, including the credibility of the source of the adverse information
- in the case of an alleged contravention of a law, whether the allegations have been substantiated or not
- whether the adverse information arose recently or some time ago
- whether your business has taken any steps to ensure the circumstances that led to the adverse information don’t happen again
- information about findings made by a relevant authority* in relation to the adverse information and the significance attached by the competent authority to the adverse information.
*Relevant authorities include the following:
- the Department of Home Affairs or another Australian Government agency
- the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman, or former authority with this function, or the relevant state or territory government authority in relation to compliance with workplace relations provisions
- the relevant state or territory government authority in relation to compliance with occupational health and safety provisions.
What happens if my business recieves endorsment?
If the Cairns Chamber of Commerce decides to endorse your business to access FNQ DAMA it will provide the Department of Home Affairs with information on the outcomes of the investigation or audits. It will also provide any statements about mitigating circumstances you may provide.
The Department of Home Affairs will then take this into consideration when negotiating a labour agreement under the FNQ DAMA with you.
If the Cairns Chamber of Commerce has endorsed your business, this does not guarantee that the Department of Home Affairs will grant a labour agreement to your business.
How to find an Australian worker
If you want the Cairns Chamber of Commerce's endorsement to nominate overseas workers under the Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement, the Chamber needs to be satisfied that you have not been able to recruit suitably qualified and skilled Australian citizens or permanent residents to fill positions.
Local recruitment options
The Chamber must be satisfied that you have undertaken genuine recruitment efforts to employ Australian citizens or Australian permanent residents before seeking endorsement under the FNQ DAMA. While there is no legislative requirement to undertake labour market testing in a particular format or for a particular timeframe for endorsement stage through the Chamber, there are legislative requirements for nomination stage (see summary below) - the Chamber will be looking for genuine efforts that are similar to or greater than those required for nomination stage. Many businesses with genuine skills shortages have had a history of ongoing or intermittment labour market testing. While you only need to describe/declare your efforts in the endorsement application, the Chamber may ask for more information from you if your efforts are not clear.
Things that you can do to test the local labour market include:
- contact a recruitment agency
- advertise a vacancy in:
- professional and trade publications
- industry associations’ newsletters.
- advertise on a recruitment website like:
- work with Job Services Australia, who work with businesses to assess the types of workers required and attempt to match them with trained and work ready job seekers.
- consider employing an apprentice - if you don’t have enough work for an ongoing or full-time apprenticeship position, group training organisations can organise to share an apprentice with another business, go to the Australian Apprenticeships website.
Labour Marketing Testing (LMT) requirements for nomination stage are summarised as follows:
Within the 4 month period which ends on the day on which the nomination application is lodged or since any redundancies or retrenchments have occurred (if within 4 months of the nomination application) - If any Australian workers have been made redundant or retrenched from the same or similar occupations in the business of the sponsor (or an associated entity) information about these redundancies or retrenchments must also be provided.
The nominated position must be advertised in Australia in accordance with the requirements set out in the relevant legislative instrument (LIN18/036). These requirements are summarised below:
- the advertisement was in English
- at least two advertisements were published in any of the below mediums:
- on a recruitment website with ‘national reach’ in Australia (e.g. jobactive.gov.au) - this would include prominent or professional recruitment websites that publishes advertisements for positions throughout Australia (e.g. jobactive.gov.au), as well as industry specific recruitment websites relevant to the occupation that are in significant use by the industry. LinkedIn's online recruitment platform is acceptable for LMT purposes. Job vacancies restricted to LinkedIn profile members only are NOT acceptable for LMT purposes. A general classifieds website or an advertisement solely through a social media notification, such as Twitter or Instagram is not an acceptable method.
- in print media with national reach in Australia - this would include national newspapers or magazines that are published at least monthly and marketed throughout Australia.
- on radio with national reach in Australia - this would include radio programs that are broadcast or syndicated nationally.
- if the sponsor is an accredited sponsor – on the approved sponsor’s website.
The advertisement included the following details:
- the title, or a description, of the position;
- the skills or experience required for the position;
- the name of the approved sponsor or the name of the recruitment agency being used by the sponsor; and
- the salary for the position (if the intended annual earnings for the nominated position are lower than AUD96,400) (Note: it is acceptable to publish a salary range - for example AUD80,000 to AUD90,000);
- the advertisement accepted applications or expressions of interest for at least four weeks after it was first published (Note: the nominated position may be advertised in the same medium (on two separate occasions) or any two different mediums simultaneously or any two different mediums on two separate occasions;
- Advertising may have been undertaken by a third party if authorised to do so by the sponsor (for example, an associated entity or a contracted party, such as a recruitment agency) - there is no requirement that the sponsor placed the advertisement themselves
For all nominations a copy of the advertising material used to advertise the position must be provided.
The standard of labour market testing for nomination stage, including duration, content and eligible mediums of advertising, are defined by the Department of Home Affairs. You can find more information on labour market testing requirements here.
The market rate requirement for TSS subclass 482 visa holders
To be endorsed to access the Far North Queensland Designated Area Migration Agreement (FNQ DAMA) the Chamber needs to be satisfied that the occupants in the positions you are seeking will be paid at least the local market rate for the occupation sought.
You must demonstrate that the terms and conditions of employment you are offering in respect of the position/s will be no less than those that you would provide to an equivalently skilled and experienced Australian worker performing the same work at the same location.
The proposed terms and conditions must also reflect the market rate for the occupation in the FNQ region.
The only time the market rate does not apply is when the proposed guaranteed annual earnings of the overseas worker will be at least exemption salary rate set by the Australian Government, which is $250,000 per year.
Terms and conditions of employment
Terms and conditions are considered to be less favourable if the overseas worker’s guaranteed annual earnings are less than those of a comparable Australian worker.
Guaranteed annual earnings include:
- guaranteed allowances such as accommodation or food allowances
- agreed reasonable monetary value of non-monetary benefits such as a motor vehicle to which the employee is entitled in return for the performance of work.
Guaranteed annual earnings do not include the following:
- payments or amounts that can’t be determined in advance such as overtime, performance-based commissions or bonuses
- reimbursements paid to the employee
- compulsory superannuation payments.
Evidence of terms and conditions
The type of evidence needed depends on whether you already employ an Australian citizen or permanent resident (an Australian) in the same role in the same location.
If you do employ a comparable Australian in the same role in the same location then you may be asked to provide:
- the Australian worker’s payslip or employment contract with identifying details removed
- a comparison of the duties, number of hours worked and level of experience of the Australian and the overseas workers to show that the salary and other terms are comparable.
If your business does not employ a comparable Australian then you should explain how you determined the overseas worker’s proposed guaranteed annual earnings. You may be asked to supply:
- the relevant industrial agreement, enterprise agreement or award
- information from employer associations or unions
- ABS statistics
- Australian Government Job Outlook data
- remuneration surveys
- job vacancy advertisements.
Unless the TSS subclass 482 visa holder’s country of citizenship has reciprocal arrangements with Australia they are not eligible for government support like Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
TSS subclass 482 visa holders must maintain private health insurance when in Australia. This is also required of any family members included on their visa who are living in Australia.
You should take this into consideration if you are applying to the Cairns Chamber of Commerce for a salary concession.
It is mandatory that when you have signed the labour agreement with the Department of Home Affairs that you continue to pay your overseas workers market rates.
This may mean that the TSS subclass 482 visas holder’s salary will need to be reviewed and increased in line with changes to the market rate.
Your sponsorship obligations are ongoing. Serious penalties and administrative sanctions apply if your business has breached any obligations in relation to the subclass 482 visa holders it employs.
Department of Home Affairs - Adverse Information
Department of Home Affairs - Standard Business Sponsor
Department of Home Affairs - Accredited Sponsor
Department of Home Affairs - Labour Market Testing
Department of Home Affairs - Market Salary and TSMIT