Labour hire host employers

If your business or organisation uses labour hire workers, including trainees or apprentices, you have legal responsibilities to ensure their safety at the workplace. This guidance explains those responsibilities.

On this page

  • Host employers
  • OHS responsibilities
  • Relationship with the labour hire provider

Host employers

A host employer is the business/organisation that labour hire workers are placed with. Host employers are the client of the labour hire provider.

The host employer is taken to be the employer of the person a labour hire provider or recruitment agency has supplied, recruited or placed with the employer to perform work. Host employers have the same health and safety duties to labour hire workers as they do any other employee.

OHS responsibilities

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), a host employer is taken to be the employer of a labour hire worker. This means the host owes the labour hire worker the same occupational health and safety (OHS) duties as any other employee.

However, hosts and labour hire providers are both responsible for the safety of labour hire workers and have shared responsibilities for their health and safety. No contract can exclude the host employer or labour hire provider from fulfilling their legal obligations to provide a safe place of work.

The host employer's and labour hire provider's shared responsibilities include:

  • providing and maintaining a working environment that is safe and without risks to health
  • training
  • assessing risks
  • monitoring the health of employees
  • monitoring conditions at the workplace

They must also ensure the labour hire worker is capable of undertaking the tasks required and is provided with everything they need to do the job safely, for example, knowledge, qualifications and personal protective equipment.

The OHS Act does not intend that host employers and labour hire providers duplicate efforts to fulfil duties to labour hire workers. Instead, labour hire providers and host employers have to work together.

Under the OHS Act, labour hire providers and host employers must consult, cooperate and coordinate with each other, so far as reasonably practicable, to ensure all duties to labour hire workers are met.

As a labour hire host, your OHS duties include:

  • providing employees with information about OHS, including in other languages as appropriate
  • keeping information and records relating to labour hire workers’ health and safety
  • employing or engaging persons suitably qualified to provide advice on the health and safety of labour hire workers
  • ensuring persons other than employees are not exposed to risks to their health
  • ensuring the workplace, and means of entering and exiting the workplace are safe and without risks to health
  • consulting with labour hire workers about OHS
  • doing everything reasonable to ensure negotiations on the establishment of a designated work group (DWG) start within 14 days after receiving a labour hire worker’s request to establish a DWG
  • consulting, cooperating and coordinating with the labour hire provider in relation to duties to labour hire workers
  • defining the job, tasks or role
  • identifying hazards and controlling any risks that arise from the work
  • ensuring the labour hire worker has the right skills and knowledge to perform the work safely
  • ensuring the labour hire worker has qualifications, certificates, permits and licences relevant to the job
  • not changing the labour hire worker's tasks or location of work without consulting with the labour hire provider and the labour hire worker
  • providing training, instruction, information and supervision
  • maintaining a training register for the labour hire worker
  • ensuring there is the necessary equipment to do the job safely, such as personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • encouraging labour hire workers to take part in health and safety consultations and issue resolution by introducing them to the relevant health and safety representative (HSR) and the person responsible for OHS
  • making sure that labour hire workers understand the OHS requirements of the workplace, for example, by going through an induction with the employee
  • advising labour hire workers on how to report hazards or incidents relating to health and safety
  • notifying WorkSafe Victoria of any notifiable incident or injury
  • encouraging the labour hire worker to maintain contact with their labour hire provider
  • ensuring equipment brought into the workplace is safe
  • consulting with employees and HSRs about health and safety

Host employers or prospective employers are guilty of an indictable offence if they discriminate against a labour hire worker or prospective labour hire worker on the basis that the labour hire worker does specific things the OHS Act permits.

If the labour hire provider is not confident that you can provide a healthy and safe workplace, it should not place an employee with you.

Relationship with the labour hire provider

Host employers have a duty to, so far as reasonably practicable, consult, coordinate and cooperate with the labour hire provider in relation to labour hire workers’ duties. You should work with the labour hire provider in a number of ways, including:

  • providing detailed information about the nature of work to be carried out, associated hazards and risk control measures
  • accessing health and safety system information
  • supporting requests to visit the workplace
  • supporting the labour hire provider when implementing a return to work plan, if required
  • entering negotiations to improve risks controls, if requested
  • consulting with the labour hire provider and employee when carrying out an incident investigation
  • consulting with the labour hire provider on OHS matters including in relation to who will provide necessary equipment such as personal protective equipment, and relevant points of contact for health and safety between the organisations
  • consulting with the labour hire provider and labour hire worker if you wish to change their role and/or location during placement