Pacific Labour Scheme Versus the Seasonal Worker Programme

09 April 2021


If your business is looking for an affordable way to keep up with demand, the Australian government has put together two effective schemes that provide local businesses with a foreign workforce – the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP). Although these initiatives have several similarities, there are a range of critical distinctions that may impact how suitable each scheme is for your operation. Here, we provide a brief overview of the main features of each programme to help employers understand the key differences between the PLS and the SWP.


Understand the Objective


While the SWP and PLS might have similar intentions, the way each one is structured could significantly change how suitable it is for your operation. The SWP is intended to help boost the economic development of nations from the Pacific and Timor-Leste region by providing key opportunities to workers in Australia’s agriculture sector and accommodation sectors.


Alternatively, the PLS is focused far more on non-seasonal work as workers are allowed to operate in any industry as long as they are based in rural Australia. Although both schemes fill gaps in the Australian job market and improve the prosperity of Australia’s neighbouring countries, the initiative that makes the most sense for your business will depend on your specific needs.


How Long Can Workers Be Employed?


With the SWP helping local agricultural and accommodation-based businesses keep up with demand during the busiest time of the year, this scheme allows unskilled and low skilled workers to be employed for up to nine months. As these workers are trained on the job, they are welcome to return in future seasons.


In the case of the PLS, there are no limitations placed on what industries can access the scheme. However, these businesses must be based in rural or regional Australia to make up for a shortfall in workers in these areas. With overseas workers employed through the PLS allowed to remain in Australia for up to three years, this helps businesses reduce training and employment costs while retaining a talented workforce.


Which Scheme Requires Labour Market Testing?


As the Australian government wants to put Australian job-seekers first, employers must complete what’s known as labour market testing to access either scheme. To abide by these labour market testing rules, employers must advertise their available jobs to residents inside Australia and provide supporting evidence that no local worker can fill the role.


Looking to learn more about the Pacific Labour Scheme and the Seasonal Worker Programme? Contact the experts at FIP Group and we’ll guide you through the process.