Frequently asked questions

Find answers to some of the most commonly-asked queries about Pacific labour mobility, and check out some key facts about the Pacific Labour Scheme.

Find out how to get involved

What is the Seasonal Worker Programme?

The Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) helps employers in the Australian agricultural and accommodation sectors in selected regional and rural locations to access unskilled seasonal labour from Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste when they cannot find labour locally.

The SWP contributes to the economic development of the nine participating Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste by providing access to work opportunities in Australia.

For more information about the SWP, visit the Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business’ SWP page.

What is the Pacific Labour Scheme?

The Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) builds on the success of the SWP. It is designed to help Australian businesses address chronic labour shortages and deliver a stable and productive workforce where local labour is not available.

The PLS enables citizens from nine Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste to take up low-skilled and semi-skilled work opportunities in all sectors in rural and regional Australia for up to three years.

Which countries are participating in the Seasonal Worker Programme and the Pacific Labour Scheme?

Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.

Anton Wasang, a worker from Papua New Guinea

No. The Pacific Labour Scheme enables employers to access low and semi-skilled workers from Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste for up to three years.

The Seasonal Worker Programme enables employers in the agricultural and accommodation sectors to access unskilled workers for a period of nine months. 

The Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) puts Australian job-seekers first. Employers must advertise jobs in Australia and demonstrate that they cannot fill vacancies with Australian workers before becoming eligible to participate in the PLS.

All participating workers have the same rights and protections as Australian workers. We provide a range of support services to assist workers including:

  • connecting workers, employers and Pacific-based training institutions
  • providing education on financial literacy, including banking services, remittance transfers, tax returns, and access to superannuation benefits (upon expiry of visas)
  • accessing affordable accommodation and appropriate living arrangements for workers
  • facilitating the introduction of workers to their local communities, including their local diaspora communities
  • providing a 24/7 information hotline for employers and workers (1800 51 51 31)
  • monitoring the impact of labour mobility programs, both in Australia and in Pacific island countries, to improve the support provided to workers.

If you are an employer who wants to join the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS), you need to be accredited as an Approved Employer by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Our online prospective employer questionnaire will help you work out whether your business is eligible to join the PLS.

If you are eligible, you can then apply to join the scheme. If you apply and are approved, you will also need to become a Temporary Activities Sponsor with the Department of Home Affairs.

If you are a current Seasonal Worker Programme Approved Employer, you can apply to join the PLS, but you still need to undergo the Approved Employer assessment process.

If you have any questions, please get in touch by email (enquiries@pacificlabourfacility.com.au).

Pacific Labour Scheme—at a glance

Start date 1 July 2018
Length of time workers can stay in Australia Up to three years (minimum of 12 months)
Industries All sectors in rural and regional Australia with an initial focus on accommodation and food services, health care and social assistance, and non-seasonal agriculture, forestry and fishing
Locations Rural and regional Australia
Skill level Low-skilled and semi-skilled (ANZSCO Level 4, with Levels 3 and 5 in scope)
Labour market testing Required
Worker support services Ongoing pastoral care, including a 24-hour phone hotline (1800 51 51 31)
Visa class 403 (International Relations)—Employer sponsorship required
Responsible agency Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
Administered by Pacific Labour Facility and DFAT
Age of workers 21-45 years
Annual cap on participants The Pacific Labour Scheme has been uncapped to enable demand-driven growth from Australian employers and Pacific island countries
Partner countries Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu