Businesses proposing to employ skilled overseas workers should note that the upcoming abolition of the Subclass 457 Temporary Work (Skilled) Visa and replacement with a new Temporary Skill Shortage Visa (TSS) will also bring with it changes to the existing visa training benchmark financial obligation requirements.

At present, sponsors of temporary overseas workers are required to spend either 1 per cent of their annual payroll on training Australian workers or donate 2 per cent to an approved training fund. This will be replaced by a levy payable by employers to provide revenue to a new Skilling Australians Fund (SAF).

The new requirements, which apply to the new TSS visa and certain permanent skilled visas (Subclass 186 Employer Nomination Scheme and Subclass 187 Regional Sponsor Migration Scheme) vary depending on the size of the employer business. For example, under the TSS visa $1,200 per visa year (or part thereof) will be payable by a small businesses of less than $10 million turnover and $1,800 per visa year (or part thereof) by a large business of over $10 million turnover. For the permanent skilled visas covered by the SAF a one-off levy of $3000 (for small businesses) and $5000 (for large businesses) is payable.

The difficulty of policing current training benchmark expenditure has been cited as a key reason for the change. Announced as part of the 2017/2018 Federal Budget, the SAF together with State and Territory contributions is expected to raise up to $1.5 billion over the first four years to train up to 300,000 Australian apprentices and trainees. The new requirements are expected come into effect on 1 March 2018.