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Labour Hire: What is it and How Does it Work?

03/08/2023 by
The Marketing Team
What is the meaning of Labour Hire? Labour hire is known as a contingent labour or temporary staffing. It is a dynamic employment arrangement that has become increasingly prevalent in the modern workforce landscape. At its core, labour hire involves the engagement of workers by an external organisation, commonly referred to as a labour hire […]
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What is the meaning of Labour Hire?

Labour hire is known as a contingent labour or temporary staffing. It is a dynamic employment arrangement that has become increasingly prevalent in the modern workforce landscape.

At its core, labour hire involves the engagement of workers by an external organisation, commonly referred to as a labour hire agency or company, to perform tasks and services on behalf of client businesses. This arrangement offers various advantages, such as flexibility access to specialised skills and reduced administrative burdens, but also raises important considerations related to job security, wage disparities, and regulatory compliance.

In this article, we will dive into the meaning of labour hire its underlying principles its impact on businesses and workers, as well as its broader implications on the labour market.

Labour hire is a staffing model in which organisation, instead of directly hiring employees, opt to contract with specialised agencies to source, recruit and employ workers on a temporary or contingent basis.

What is the difference between labour hire and a non-employee?

Labour hire and non-employee arrangements are distinct workforce models with unique implications for businesses and workers. Key differences include:

  1. Employment relations: Labour hire involves workers employed by an agency and assigned to clients, while non-employees work independently on contract basis.
  2. Nature of employment: Labour hire is typically temporary or project-based, while non-employees have more flexibility with multiple contracts.
  3. Work arrangements: Labour hire workers are integrated into client's workforce, whereas non-employees often work remotely.
  4. Control and Autonomy: Labour hire offers some client control, while non-employees have more autonomy.
  5. Legal and tax implications: Agencies handle labour hire legalities, while non-employees are responsible for their own taxes.
  6. Job security and benefits: Labour hire workers may have less job security and limited client-provided benefits, while non-employees negotiate compensation based on service value.

Is labour hire the same as subcontracting?

Labour hire and subcontracting are two related yet distinct concepts involving the engagement of workers by external organisations to perform tasks or services for another company. However, several key differences set them apart:

  • Labour Hire:
    • In labour hire, the worker is employed by a third-party agency known as the labour hire agency. This agency assumes responsibility for HR-related tasks, such as payroll, taxes, and compliance. The arrangement is typically temporary, based on specific durations or projects, depending on demand and assignment availability. The client company exercises direct control over the day-to-day tasks and work environment of the labour hire worker, who becomes integrated into the client's workforce. Payment for the worker's services is made to the labour hire agency, which then handles wages, taxes, and benefits
  • Subcontractor:
    • A subcontractor is an independent business or individual providing specialised services to a client company. Unlike labour hire workers, subcontractors are not employees but self-employed entities. Subcontracting involves a contractual relationship, where the subcontractor agrees to provide specific services or complete projects as outlined in the contract. Subcontractors enjoy more autonomy over their work, deciding how to accomplish assigned tasks without direct control or supervision from the client company. They are paid directly by the client company and are responsible for their taxes, insurance, and other business obligations.

The primary distinctions between labour hire and subcontracting lie in the employment relationship, duration of engagement, control and autonomy, and payment structure. Labour hire involves a formal employment arrangement through a third-party agency, usually for temporary work, with the client company exercising direct control. In contrast, subcontractors are independent entities providing specialised services through contractual agreements, with greater autonomy over their work. Understanding these differences is crucial for businesses seeking to engage external workers for specific needs and projects.

Labour Hire Workers Rights

Labour hire workers worldwide enjoy essential rights protected by employment laws, ensuring fairness, safety, and equal opportunities. These common rights for labour hire employees include fair wages, safe working conditions, reasonable hours, protection from discrimination, and freedom from harassment. Additionally, they have job security during their engagement and may be entitled to benefits like sick leave and holidays. Workers have the right to access information about their rights and join trade unions for collective bargaining.

Unlawful termination is prohibited, safeguarding their employment status. Adherence to these rights is vital for labour hire agencies and client companies to maintain a fair and balanced workforce. Workers must be aware of their rights and feel empowered to voice concerns. Labour laws aim to protect all workers, regardless of their employment arrangement.

Labour Hire Employment Example

Example: Construction Project

  • Scenario:
    • ABC Construction Company secures a significant six-month contract for a construction project requiring skilled laborers such as carpenters, electricians, and plumbers. To meet fluctuating labour demands and the project's temporary nature, ABC Construction opts for labour hire employment.

Labour Hire Employment Process

  1. Contacting a Labour Hire Agency
  • ABC Construction contacts a reputable labour hire agency specialised in construction staffing, detailing their workforce needs and project requirements.

2. Sourcing and Recruitment:

  • The labour hire agency searches its database for qualified candidates, selecting individuals with the necessary skills and certifications.

3. Hiring and Employment

  • Candidates receive employment contracts outlining project duration, hourly rates, and other details, becoming employees of the labour hire agency.

4. Assignment to the Client

  • The selected workers are assigned to ABC Construction and become integral members of the construction team, supervised by ABC Construction.

5. Ongoing Management

  • The labour hire agency remains the formal employer, handling administrative tasks while ABC Construction manages day-to-day operations and work performance.

6. Project Completion:

  • As the project nears completion, the labour hire agency and ABC Construction assess future workforce needs.

7. Transition or Extension:

  • Workers' contracts may be extended for future projects or transitioned to other assignments with different clients based on demand.

Labour Hire vs Contractor

Labour hires and contractors are distinct workforce models with varying implications for businesses and workers:

  • Labour Hire:
    • Employment Relationship: Workers employed by a third-party agency, handling HR tasks.
    • Temporary Employment: Typically project-based, contingent on demand
    •  Control and Direction: Client company oversees daily tasks.
    • Payment: Client pays agency, which handles worker compensation.
  • Contractor:
    • Independent Business Relationship: Self-employed individuals or businesses offering specialised services.Contractual Arrangement: Works under a contract with client, with autonomy over tasks.
    • Payment: Client pays contractor directly.
  • Key Differences:
    • Employment Status: Labour hire workers are agency employees; contractors are self-employed.
    • Duration: Labour hire is temporary; contracting varies in duration.
    • Control: Labour hire workers integrated into client's workforce; contractors work independently.
    • Payment: Labour hire agency handles payment; clients pay contractors directly.
    • Legal and Tax Status: Labour hire workers subject to employment laws; contractors handle their obligations.
  • In conclusion, choosing between labour hire and contracting depends on specific business needs, work nature, and desired control. Assessing these factors helps businesses make the best workforce decision.

Labour Hire Vs Casual Employment

Labour hire and casual employment: key differences:

  • Labour Hire:
    • Worker employed by labour hire agency.
    • Temporary, project-based employment.
    • Client company directs tasks, agency handles HR.
    • Payroll and benefits provided by agency.
    • Some employment stability within assignments.
  • Casual Employment:
    • Direct employment by client company.
    • Flexible hours, as-needed basis.
      • Client directs tasks, workers have some autonomy.
    • Payroll and benefits provided by client.
    • No guarantee of ongoing work.

Differences include employer relationship, employment duration, payroll, and stability. Employers must consider their needs when choosing between the two.

Labour Hire Meaning ATO

Labour hire, as defined by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), involves a business engaging workers through a labour hire agency. The agency employs and pays the workers, while the host employer directs their daily activities. Key characteristics of labour hire include a traditional employer-employee relationship, host employer control, and the agency handling payments and HR tasks. A contractual arrangement outlines the engagement terms. The ATO monitors these arrangements to ensure tax compliance and proper worker classification. Businesses must adhere to guidelines to avoid penalties and ensure fair treatment of workers. Compliance maintains the integrity of the labour market and protects workers' entitlements.

Labour Hire Australia

Labour hire is a prevalent workforce arrangement in Australia, offering businesses flexibility and providing job opportunities for workers in various industries. Key aspects include temporary employment, labour hire licensing, worker rights, and employment conditions outlined in contracts. Labour hire spans diverse sectors, such as construction, hospitality, and healthcare. Businesses engaging in labour hire must ensure legal compliance and fair treatment of workers, while the Fair Work Ombudsman and trade unions play roles in safeguarding workers' rights. Overall, labour hire contributes significantly to Australia's labour market by meeting dynamic staffing demands and fulfilling temporary employment needs. Both businesses and workers must be aware of their rights and obligations within the regulated labour hire industry.

Legal Advice

Our highly experienced solicitors at our sister company, Legal Kitz can provide you with advice that is tailored to your situation, ensuring that your concerns are addressed. You can also request to book a FREE consultation or contact them at or 1300 988 954. You can also check out our Business Kitz subscription service today to begin your business with a solid foundation that ensures legal compliance. 

The Marketing Team
Business Kitz Marketing team are experts in their field. You can expect the best business guides and updates on employment law here.
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