457 Training Benchmark Policy Changes 2012By Mark Webster
23 April 2012 The Department has recently made changes to their policy in assessing the training benchmark for 457 Standard Business Sponsors. Most employers seeking to sponsor for the 457 program would need to be approved as a Standard Business Sponsor. An important part of this approval is to demonstrate that the business meets a training benchmark - either spending 1% of payroll on training or contributing 2% of payroll to an eligible training fund. It is also important to realise that 457 sponsors need to meet the training benchmark each financial year on an ongoing basis after approval, otherwise they can have their sponsorship approval cancelled. The changes clarify the Department of Immigration's criteria in assessing the training benchmarks compared to the previous policy document. Some of the significant changes are as follows:
- Up to 40% of training can be for business owners or directors. Previously, training only provided to such persons could not count towards the training benchmark.
- Reasonable and necessary costs to attend training - eg travel, facility/equipment hire, printing of training material - can be counted towards the training benchmark.
- The cost of attending conferences, trade shows and expos can be counted, but there needs to be clear evidence of the associated professional development opportunity. This would typically involve providing details of training seminars attended by employees at such events.
- Membership fees for professional bodies can be counted where this includes training opportunities. In this case, the proportion of fees attributable to training can be counted.
- Salaries for Apprentices, registered trainees and recent graduates can count towards the training benchmark. In the case of recent graduates, people undertaking a structured program who are less than 2 years out of university can potentially have their entire salaries counted as training expenditure.