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Covid-19 and Overseas Temporary Workers

The Prime Minister announced a shutdown of places of public gatherings from 12:00 pm (midday) on Monday 23 March 2020. This includes hotels, bars, nightclubs, casinos, restaurants, and cafes.

A further announcement was made by the Prime Minister that a shutdown of beauticians, massage therapists and a restriction to hairdressers effective as of midnight from Wednesday 25 March 2020.

What are your options if you are stood down?

We understand that you may be one of the many hospitality staff who has recently been stood down and are wondering what your options are to remain lawfully in Australia.

Covid-19 and Overseas Workers Providing Leave Without Pay

Providing leave without pay is a good option to ensure you remain sponsored by your organisation.

There are two government policy guidelines relating to LWOP – Leave Without Pay. However, as we’re currently in unprecedented times these rules will no doubt be relaxed.

The first one is the policy for condition 8107 (previous or current 457 visa holders), which indicates the LWOP is generally accepted if less than 12 months.

The second one is the policy for condition 8607 (current 482 visa holder), which indicates the LWOP is generally accepted for less than 3 months or longer under exceptional circumstances.

I would suggest that the current circumstances are classified as ‘exceptional’ and therefore a greater period of three months for 482 visa holders will be considered until the enforced lockdown is over.

For leave without pay, the expectations are:

Employees may also be permitted to access their Superannuation under the guidelines introduced by the Government in the last few days. It is our understanding the Government is setting up an online application for this and more details will be released shortly.

What if You are Terminated?

If this is your employer’s only option, they must do so in accordance with Australian employment law and notify the Department within 28 days. You may request your employer to pay repatriation costs to your country of residence but you must make this request in writing.

Clearly, current travel bans may make repatriation difficult at this time.

Special Welfare Payments

It is our understanding the government is considering special welfare payments and visa extensions will be offered to non-residents stranded in Australia who lose their jobs and are unable to return home now on temporary visas without access to government services.

While Australian workers will come first, the government will seek to place highly skilled temporary migrants who stand to lose their jobs. For further information, please access https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/special-benefit

Published Wed 25 March 2020. Tags: ,

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