Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) scheme employers can recruit seasonal workers through the Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) or longer-term workers through the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS).
The PALM scheme is a demand-driven program that allows Australian employers to hire workers from 9 Pacific islands and Timor-Leste when there are not enough local workers available.
PALM scheme employers participating in the SWP can recruit workers for up to 9 months in the agriculture sector nationally, and in the accommodation sector with a focus on rural and regional Australia.
Employers participating in the PLS can recruit workers for up to 3 years in the agriculture sector nationally, and in all other sectors in rural and regional Australia.
Filling seasonal jobs through the SWP
Seasonal workers can fill unskilled and low-skilled jobs for up to 9 months in the agriculture (including pastoral work, canework and cotton work), horticulture and aquaculture industries.
Seasonal workers can also be employed in unskilled and low-skilled seasonal roles in the accommodation sector, with a focus on rural and regional parts of Australia.
Regional and rural employers in the accommodation sector can apply to recruit workers as bar attendants, baristas, food and beverage attendants/waiters, café workers, garden labourers, housekeepers, kitchen hands and public area cleaners.
Employers who require low-skilled and semi-skilled workers for up to 3 years can apply to join the PLS through the PALM scheme’s application process.
The PLS is open to the agriculture sector nationally and all other industries in regional and rural Australia. The program has successfully placed women and men from Pacific island countries and Timor-Leste in a range of sectors, including agriculture, meat processing, hospitality and tourism, and aged care.
The PLS is demand driven and employer sponsored. It requires labour market testing to ensure Australians have priority for local jobs and contains protections to ensure employers are taking good care of their workers, and that all required conditions are being met.
An important part of the PALM scheme recruitment process is demonstrating you can provide adequate support and appropriate living and working conditions for your workers.
All Pacific and Timorese workers participating in the PALM scheme are entitled to the same protections and have the same workplace rights as Australian workers. In addition, employers must meet a set of additional criteria to remain eligible for participation in the PALM scheme.
COVID-19 has changed the way approved employers recruit workers. State and territory governments are now responsible for approving all overseas arrivals (including Pacific workers) to ensure that there is adequate quarantine space available.
State and territory quarantine arrangements and approval processes do vary, as do the approval process requirements. These requirements must be met before state or territory governments will grant approval for the arrival of Pacific workers.
Please note that these extra state and territory processes are likely to cause delays to the mobilisation of workers.
For more information on COVID-safe recruitment processes, please call the SWP information line (+61 2 6240 5234), 9 am-5 pm (AEDT), Monday to Friday, or email (email@example.com), or call the Pacific Labour Facility on (+61 7 3557 7750) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
PLS and SWP worker recruitment: Step by step
The following infographic outlines the key steps and timelines associated with recruitment during the pandemic. Some specific aspects are dependent on which state or territory workers will be based in.