10. Locally engaged staff
Missions, posts and international organisations can employ Australian citizens or permanent residents as locally engaged staff (LES). They cannot sponsor persons from their own or third countries to work in non-accredited roles in their offices in Australia. Protocol Branch must be informed when a LES employee begins or finishes employment by completing a Locally Engaged Staff Member Commencement/Departure form [PDF].
10.1 Application of local labour laws
LES have legal recourse on workplace issues. Under the Foreign States Immunities Act 1985, a foreign state is not immune in legal proceedings about the employment of Australian citizens and permanent residents as LES in foreign missions and posts.
LES employment conditions must meet Australian workplace standards, including minimum wages, leave, safety and protection from unlawful discrimination and harassment. Foreign missions should familiarise themselves with Australian national legislation including:
- Fair Work Act 2009
- Fair Work Regulations 2009
- Sex Discrimination Act
- Racial Discrimination Act
and with relevant state and territory legislation.
Award coverage for employees of embassies & consulates (Fair Work Ombudsman)
Missions should seek local legal advice to ensure that their recruitment and employment processes are fully compliant with Australian laws and reflect best practice.
LES must pay Australian income tax on their earnings. Employers, including foreign missions and consulates, are required by law to withhold tax from payments made to LES and pay this to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). To comply with their obligations under Australia's 'pay as you go' (PAYG) tax withholding system, missions must:
- register with the ATO to withhold tax from payments made to Australian employees, known as Pay As You Go (PAYG) withholding
- use the ATO's online calculator or tax tables to calculate how much tax to withhold
- pay and report withheld amounts to the ATO
- provide an annual payment summary to each LES employee by 14 July
- lodge a PAYG withholding annual report with the ATO by 14 August.
More information is available on the ATO website or by calling 13 28 66 between 8am and 8pm Monday to Friday and 10am and 4pm on Saturday, except on national public holidays.
Employers, including foreign missions and consulates, are required to pay Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions for eligible LES to a super fund. More information on superannuation guarantee arrangements is available on the ATO website or by calling 13 10 20 from 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday.
10.4 Workplace health and safety
Australian law requires employers, including foreign missions and consulates, to provide a safe working environment for staff. This involves identifying health and safety risks and taking appropriate risk management steps. Safe Work Australia and workplace health and safety authorities in each state and territory are responsible for enforcing workplace health and safety laws and can provide more information.
Compensation for staff who are injured or become ill at work is the responsibility of the employer. Employers are generally required to hold approved workers compensation insurance policies for employees. LES can take legal action in respect of work-related injury or illness. Missions and consular posts are encouraged to maintain appropriate workers' compensation insurance cover in respect of LES.