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Changes to 6 month work limitation for Working Holiday Maker program

It has been indicated by the Department of Home Affairs that when new arrangements are put in place any work carried out by employees before that date will not be counted towards the 6 month period.

As most employers would already be aware, Australia is currently facing unprecedented skills shortages. According to a new National Skills Commission report, Nearly a third of all Australian sectors are confronting serious labour shortfalls. Of the 20 largest employing occupations, more than half face serious shortages.

To address these shortages, one of the COVID-19 pandemic measures deployed by the Australian Government’s Department of Home Affairs was to temporarily relax the 6-month work limitation (visa condition 8547) attached to the two visa subclasses within the Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program. The Department also temporarily waived the 40-hour per rolling fortnight limitation on student visas, a measure that is set to be removed at the end of June.

The working holiday maker visa condition 8547 sets a 6-month work limitation for employers of staff holding either subclass 417 or subclass 462 visas. Holders of these visas are only able to work for an employer for up to 6 months, without requesting for this condition to be waived. Waivers are allowed under certain circumstances e.g. specific industries, work locations etc.

This relaxation of policy was aimed at assisting Australian employers to manage workforce issues in wake of the pandemic and has been very effective so far. Unfortunately for employers, it is currently indicated that this period will come to an end on the 31st of December 2022.

The good news is that it has been indicated that when new arrangements are put in place (we expect from 31st December 2022), any work carried out by employees before that date will not be counted towards the 6 month period.

This means that employers will be able to continue to employ their existing staff for up to 6 more months past this date (assuming the visa is still valid), without the need to be concerned about breaching this visa condition.

Maintaining Compliance Obligations While Employing Visa Holders

With these two temporary measures being wound up by the Government in coming months, it is very important to ensure that you are managing your compliance obligations and only employing individuals with the legal right to work in Australia. CheckWorkRights has been built and deployed to the market with the sole aim of assisting organisations to achieve and maintain compliance in this area.

CheckWorkRights makes it easy for organisations to manage, monitor, and comply with the governing legislation in this area (MIGRATION AMENDMENT (REFORM OF EMPLOYER SANCTIONS) ACT 2013 (NO. 10, 2013). If you would like a copy of this Act, or if you would like a detailed discussion around your obligations in this area, please reach out via our contact us page.

Checkworkrights provides an efficient means of managing compliance in this area through:

  • Easy and efficient means of collecting declaration of citizenship and evidence to support the declaration (This functionality can be used an entire workforce, for both foreign citizens and Australian citizens)
  • Instant verification of right to work, via our direct integration with the Australian Department of Home Affairs
  • Scheduled automation of ongoing VEVO (workplace entitlement checks) takes the guesswork and risks out of employing visa holders
  • Segmented automated reporting and regular alerts when needed
  • Direct integration to connect to existing ATS, HRM, HRIS, and Payroll applications

Background: Working Holiday Maker (WHM) program

It allows young adults to have a 12-month holiday in Australia, during which they can undertake short-term work and study.

The WHM program includes over 40 partner countries or jurisdictions in two visa subclasses, the Working Holiday (subclass 417) visa and the Work and Holiday (subclass 462) visa.

Two different Visa types

Working Holiday (subclass 417)

  • Must be 18 to 30 years old (or 35 years old for some countries)
  • Must have a passport from an eligible country or jurisdiction
  • Must not be accompanied by dependent children
  • Do short-term work in Australia to help pay for your holiday study for up to 4 months
  • Travel to and from Australia as many times as you want
  • Can apply for a second and third visa to extend stay in Australia
  • Available to individuals from the following countries: Belgium, Canada, Republic of Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders), Republic of Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Taiwan (other than an official or diplomatic passport), The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Work and Holiday (subclass 462)

  • Must be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive)
  • Must have a passport from an eligible country
  • Must not be accompanied by dependent children
  • Do short-term work in Australia to help pay for your holiday study for up to 4 months
  • Travel to and from Australia as many times as you want
  • Must be 18 to 30 years old (inclusive)
  • Can apply for a second and third visa to extend stay in Australia
  • Available to individuals from the following countries: Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Chile, China, People’s Republic of, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Greece, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mongolia, Peru, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, United States of America, Vietnam
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is general only, and not to be taken as Migration Advice. Please be aware that visas and regulations are subject to frequent change. It is advisable to verify the latest information from the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and or seek specific advice relating to your circumstances from a MARA Registered Migration Agent.