Labour hire overview

When a labour hire provider provides workers to another organisation on a fee or contract basis, this is known as labour hire. The guidance on the following pages explains labour hire.

On this page

  • What is labour hire?
  • Who is an employer?
  • Who is an employee?
  • Who is responsible for labour hire employees' safety?

What is labour hire?

Labour hire is when a labour hire provider provides labour hire workers to another company on a fee or contract basis. The company the labour hire workers are placed with is known as the host employer. The host employer is the client of the labour hire provider.

The arrangements between labour hire providers and host companies are also  known as temping, contracting, on-hire or labour supply. Providing apprentices and trainees to host employers is another type of labour hire.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) the host employer is taken to be the employer of any labour hire workers a labour hire provider has supplied, placed or recruited to work for the employer. The host employer has the same health and safety duties to labour hire workers as any other employee.

Who is an employer?

If you have one or more employees, you are an employer. An employer can be a:

  • person
  • partnership
  • company
  • unincorporated body or association, franchising operation or not-for-profit organisation

Who is an employee?

You are an employee if you have a verbal or written contract of employment or a contract of training.

Under amendments to the OHS Act, a person a labour hire provider or recruitment agency has supplied, recruited or placed with a host employer to perform work for the employer is also considered an employee. Examples include a process worker, order picker in a warehouse, temporary receptionist or an agency nurse.

In some cases, employers also owe duties to independent contractors and employees of independent contractors.

Who is responsible for labour hire employees' safety?

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

However, labour hire providers and hosts are both responsible for the safety of labour hire employees and have shared responsibilities for their health and safety.

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

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

They must also ensure the employee is capable and provided with everything they need to do the job safely.

The OHS Act does not intend that labour hire providers and host employers 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.

Labour hire providers and host employers cannot pass their duties onto one or the other through a contract. WorkSafe has previously prosecuted both the labour hire provider and the host employer following an incident at a host employer's workplace where the court assigned equal liability.

Visit the following pages for more information on your rights and responsibilities as a labour hire provider, host employer or labour hire worker.