If you have ever worked as a labour-hire contractor, or applied for a contract which needs a Baseline, NV1 or NV2 Department of Defence clearance in Canberra, you will know that not having a security clearance is one of the major barriers to success.
The requirement for a security clearance has been tied to a candidate occupying a position and being sponsored for their clearance. This leaves labour-hire employees at a disadvantage because their sponsor changes with each contract without giving them the opportunity to be sure they would hold the clearance required for their next contract.
During the past two years, there have been significant changes to the security clearance process within Defence, and since April 2019, external agencies have been allowed to sponsor security clearances.
This opened the door for PayMe Australia to centrally sponsor security clearances for its employees who are required for work on a current Defence contract, or to help with a tender for a Defence contract, so that their clearance does not lapse when they move between recruitment companies.
Garrie Irons has 10 years’ experience working as a contractor in information technology and knows what candidates without clearances are up against.
“The main impact of having a clearance is the certainty of work,” he says. “It might not impact your rate of pay, but it will impact the range of roles that will open up to you.
“This initiative gives candidates a way to get a clearance for a role and have it held by one sponsor. The candidate can make the decision for themselves, look at the requirements for a job and get clearance at their own pace when the next job requires a different clearance.”
From Garrie’s perspective, it is about being able to have control over your career.
“Stumping up for the clearance is an investment in your own future,” he says. “For an organisation such as PayMe to offer the opportunity to salary sacrifice a security clearance over time has the potential to change people’s lives.”
This week, PayMe Australia announced it will continuously sponsor its contractors so that an employer sponsorship is always maintained while the contractor moves between recruitment companies.
Any labour-hire contractor can join PayMe Australia, which provides specialist payroll services including access to salary sacrifice arrangements, fee-free novated leasing, the ability to put funds away for any gaps between contracts, free membership to the Australian Contractor Community and sponsoring of security clearances.
The security clearance arrangement also forms a key component of PayMe’s commitment to Australian Defence Force (ADF) veterans, to help with the transition from service to civilian employment. Contractors working for PayMe Australia will also have access to education material on how to apply for clearances at Baseline, Negative Vetting 1 and Negative Vetting 2 levels.
It also means that contractors moving to Canberra after they have secured an initial job requiring a Baseline clearance should have the clearance when they arrive.
PayMe Australia executive chairman Ian Lindgren, an ADF veteran, says the offer will break open the number of job opportunities available in Canberra with the capital’s largest employers.
“It means there will be so many more opportunities for contractors to apply for, and get, security cleared roles,” he says. “In the past, they’ve either had to wait for AGSVA [Australian Government Security Vetting Agency] to clear them, which can take months, and miss out on the job, or they don’t apply because they haven’t got a clearance. This is a way to open up career opportunities for all contractors, and to keep their clearance between jobs.”
For contractors who regularly change recruitment companies, this means that not only will their pay records be continuously held by PayMe throughout their career, but their security clearance will, too.
To be considered for continuous security sponsorship, each contractor must be paid by PayMe during the time it takes to be vetted. The cost of the clearance can be salary packaged and if the contractor ever needs to leave PayMe, they will transfer the clearance or continue the sponsorship depending on the instructions given by the contractor.
As for paying contractor costs, Garrie says it is no different to investing in any other qualification.
“You’d pay to get your heavy vehicle licence to be a truck driver, and you’d pay for a degree to be a doctor,” he says. “This is just paying for another kind of qualification, which opens up career possibilities for you.”
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