Thursday, January 20, 2022

Foreign students allowed to work more hours to help ease Covid worker shortage

Foreign students will be allowed to pick up more hours to help alleviate worker shortages as more people are forced into isolation due to Australia’s Omicron COVID-19 outbreak.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the federal government will remove the 40-hour-a-fortnight cap on student visa-holder workers, meaning they will no longer have restrictions on the amount of hours they can work.

Forty-hour work limits on international student visa-holders were lifted for people in the tourism and hospitality industry in May last year.

Morrison encouraged international students to return to Australia, and backpackers are also allowed into the country under working holidays visas, on the condition they are fully vaccinated.

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There have been worker shortages in the food distribution and manufacturing industries recently because a large number of workers have had to isolate due to a surge of coronavirus cases.

Emergency services and food distribution workers in New South Wales and Queensland who are close contacts can leave isolation to go to work, if they do not have any symptoms.

High-risk contacts, such as people who are living with a positive COVID-19 case, must take a rapid antigen test every second day until day six of their isolation period.

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As of Wednesday next week, Victorian workers in emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport and freight can be exempt from isolating as close contacts, expanding an exemption that already applies to healthcare and food and drink distribution workers.

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Australia’s top health panel recommended state and territory leaders consider expanding the number of workers permitted to leave self-isolation.

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