Labour hire employees

Labour hire employees are entitled to a safe working environment under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004. Find out more about your rights and responsibilities as a labour hire employee. 

Date last updated

Monday 03 Feb 2020

Industries and topics
  • Labour hire

On this page

  • What is labour hire?
  • What are my OHS rights as a labour hire employee?
  • What are my OHS responsibilities as a labour hire employee?
  • Labour hire agencies OHS responsibilities
  • Host OHS responsibilities

What is labour hire?

Labour hire agencies supply workers to other businesses on a fee or contract basis. These arrangements can also be known as temping, contracting, on-hire or labour supply. Group training organisations that provide trainees and apprentices to workplaces are also labour hire agencies. The agency has the legal duties of the employer under the OHS Act when they are the organisation paying the employee.

Labour hire agencies and hosts have a joint responsibility to ensure your safety at the host's workplace.

What are my OHS rights as a labour hire employee?

You have the same legal rights regarding your health and safety at work as any other employee, including the right to:

  • a healthy and safe workplace
  • refuse to perform unsafe work
  • be represented and consulted in relation to your health and safety
  • be protected from discrimination if you raise a health and safety issue or concern.

OHS representation

You are entitled to Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) representation as a labour hire employee. Both the agency and the host have duties under the OHS Act to consult with you about health and safety.

Check if the agency or the host has a health and safety representative (HSR). This person can then raise health and safety issues on your behalf. It is possible that an HSR from both the agency and the host can represent you to the duty holders at either the agency or the host.

If there is no HSR at either the agency or the host workplace, you can ask your employer, the labour hire agency to negotiate with their employees to establish designated work groups so that HSRs can be elected. You must do everything reasonable to ensure negotiations start within 14 days after the request.

The host may have an agreement in place with their staff that allows their HSR to represent a labour hire employee. If not, you can approach either the responsible manager or an HSR to ask whether such an agreement could be negotiated.

Raising OHS issues

If you have any concerns about your health or safety as a labour hire employee, you can raise your concerns with:

  • the responsible manager at your labour hire agency or host
  • your HSR at your labour hire agency or an HSR at the host
  • your union
  • the WorkSafe Victoria Advisory Service toll-free on 1800 136 089.

If you raise an issue or a concern about health and safety, the OHS Act protects you from being discriminated against by your employer or any potential employer.

What are my OHS responsibilities as a labour hire employee?

You must take reasonable care for your own health and safety, and that of others. You must also cooperate with anything your labour hire agency or host does to meet its health and safety obligations.

If you notice a hazard or an incident relating to health and safety, you must report it to your host and agency promptly and the elected HSR if there is one.

Labour hire agencies OHS responsibilities

As an employer, the agency should:

  • assess the workplace
  • provide an induction
  • assess your ability to do the job safely
  • only assign you roles at a host workplace that you can do safely
  • monitor the workplace to make sure health and safety requirements are being met.

You can find more information on labour hire agency responsibilities on the pages below.

Host OHS responsibilities

The host should treat labour hire employees and contractors as if they are its own employees with regards to health and safety. They must provide you with site-specific induction and task-specific instruction and supervision. They must also supply the necessary equipment for you to do the job safely, which may include personal protective equipment. You can find more information about these and other OHS duties on the Labour hire hosts page below.