Requirements for Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Programme
Queensland has opted into the Australian Government's recommencement of the Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP), now consolidated under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme, to address the expected labour shortage in agribusiness, particularly through the summer harvest period.
Our main focus for meeting labour shortages is to attract and train Queenslanders. However, workforce shortages are still expected in this sector.
Agribusinesses may be able to seek workers from the Pacific nations to fill some harvesting, field labour and processing roles.
Requirements for agribusinesses applying to recruit an overseas workforce
There are 3 key requirements to participate in the PLS and SWP in Queensland.
- Employers must be an approved employer and receive Australian Government approval (see below) for their recruitment plan.
- Approved employers must receive Queensland Government approval (see below) for their recruitment plan. For on-farm or regional-facility quarantine, this plan must include an International Quarantine Plan endorsed by Queensland's Chief Health Officer.
- Approved employers must coordinate with each other to ensure their proposals will fit within the cap on the total number of sites where workers are quarantined at any one time (see below).
Approved employers will need to allow at least 10 weeks between lodging a recruitment proposal and the arrival of workers in Queensland—this is due to the high demand for workers across Australia and New Zealand, and the additional recruitment approvals due to COVID-19.
Australian Government approval requirements
The PLS and SWP are managed by the Australian Government under the Pacific Australia Labour Mobility (PALM) Scheme.
Only approved employers can participate in the schemes. Once you have considered the differences between the schemes, you can apply to become an approved employer by contacting:
If you are not an approved employer, you may be able to access Pacific workers through a licensed labour hire company in Queensland that is already an approved employer for the PLS and SWP.
An approved employer must meet a range of Australian Government criteria including:
- robust labour market testing, ensuring Australian workers are considered first
- net financial benefit to the workers
- appropriate approved accommodation arrangements for the workers.
Queensland Government approval – quarantine requirements
Quarantine requirements will apply to any workers entering the state to protect the current labour force and Queensland residents. The number of workers able to enter will be limited by Queensland's quarantine capacity.
There are 3 quarantine options:
- on-farm quarantine of workers from low COVID-risk Pacific nations
- industry-led regional quarantine facilities for workers from low COVID-risk Pacific nations
- sometimes, there is capacity for small numbers of workers in hotel quarantine.
All quarantine arrangements must be approved by the Queensland Chief Health Officer.
Read more about the quarantine options and how to apply for them.
It is highly recommended that approved employers proposing to quarantine workers contact the Approved Employers Association (AEA) about their proposal.
The AEA has been coordinating proposals for recruitment of workers from Pacific nations within the cap set by the Queensland Government on the total number of sites where workers are quarantined at any time. The cap helps keep the community safe by ensuring there is sufficient Queensland Government oversight and support.
The AEA may also be able to suggest service providers to help you deliver quarantine arrangements for workers.
- Last reviewed: 1 Oct 2021
- Last updated: 7 Oct 2021