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Everything about labour agreements

Understanding labour agreements

Labour agreements are formal contracts between Australian employers and the Australian Government, allowing businesses to sponsor skilled overseas workers under specific conditions. These agreements are designed to address skills shortages in certain industries while ensuring opportunities for job-ready Australians.

Labour agreements enable approved businesses to sponsor skilled overseas workers when there is a demonstrated need that cannot be met in the Australian labour market and where standard temporary or permanent visa programs are not available. These agreements typically last for five years and provide for visas to be granted under one or more of the following visa programs:


Types of labour agreements

Labour agreements come in various forms, tailored to specific business needs and industries. Here are the five main types:


Company-Specific Labour Agreements

These agreements are customised to meet the specific needs of individual companies. They are suitable when there is a genuine skills or labour shortage in an occupation not covered by existing visa programs. The terms and conditions are negotiated directly between the employer and the government to address unique business needs. Key features include:

  • Flexibility in job roles and criteria specific to the company’s needs.
  • Ability to address unique and niche skill shortages, including occupations that are not on the standard skilled occupation list
  • Customised concessions on standard visa requirements.


Industry Labour Agreements

Industry-specific agreements set out fixed terms and conditions negotiated between the government and key industry stakeholders. They ensure uniformity across an industry and cover sectors like dairy, fishing, meat, on-hire, fine dining and more. These agreements are designed to streamline the process for employers within a specific industry facing similar labour shortages. Key features include:

  • Standardised terms and conditions for all employers within the industry.
  • Designed in collaboration with industry representatives to meet common needs.
  • Easier application process for employers as the agreement is pre-negotiated.


Designated Area Migration Agreements (DAMA)

DAMA is designed to support regional areas experiencing labour shortages. These agreements provide flexibility for local regions to address unique economic conditions through a framework that allows the sponsorship of skilled and semi-skilled workers. DAMA allows concessions on standard visa requirements to cater to regional labour needs. Key features include:

  • Tailored to the specific needs of regional areas.
  • Allows for a broader range of occupations, including semi-skilled roles.
  • Concessions on standard visa requirements such as English language, age, and salary.


Global Talent Employer Sponsored (GTES) Agreements

The GTES program helps businesses sponsor overseas workers with cutting-edge skills in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, where there are no suitable Australians available. It includes a streamlined process and provides age and occupation concessions. This agreement is aimed at fostering innovation and technological advancement in Australia. Key features include:

  • Streamlined visa processing for highly skilled roles in STEM fields.
  • Concessions on age and work experience requirements.
  • Emphasis on innovation and future growth sectors.


Project Agreements

Project agreements cater to large-scale projects requiring significant numbers of skilled workers. These agreements are suitable for major infrastructure or resource projects, ensuring that peak workforce demands are met during the construction phase. Project agreements ensure that critical projects can proceed without delays due to labour shortages. Key features include:

  • Designed for large-scale, high-impact projects.
  • Flexible terms to meet the unique requirements of significant projects.
  • Streamlined process to address urgent labour needs during project phases.


Benefits of entering into a labour agreement for businesses

Entering into a labour agreement offers numerous advantages for businesses, including:


Access to skilled workers

Labour agreements provide a pathway to hire skilled workers from overseas, addressing immediate skill gaps within organisations.

Flexibility in visa requirements

These agreements may offer concessions to standard visa criteria, such as English language proficiency, salary thresholds, occupations and work experience requirements, making it easier to recruit the right talent.

Support for regional and industry-specific needs

Labour agreements can be tailored to meet the specific needs of regional areas and industries, ensuring that businesses in these sectors can thrive.

Pathways to permanent residency

Certain labour agreements provide pathways to permanent residency, helping businesses retain skilled workers in the long term.

How to request a labour agreement

To request a labour agreement, businesses must demonstrate a genuine need for overseas workers and provide evidence that local recruitment efforts have been unsuccessful. The process involves submitting an online request form and may require consultation with relevant industry stakeholders.

Sponsorship obligations and compliance

Approved sponsors must comply with various obligations, including ensuring that sponsored workers receive the same terms and conditions as Australian workers. Sponsors must also cooperate with monitoring and reporting requirements to maintain their status.


For further guidance and detailed information on labour agreements, please get in touch with our expert team at to arrange an online consultation.

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