Super and the seasonal worker

Monday 7 October, 2013

Growers often use seasonal workers to meet demand at particular times. To avoid the administrative burden of employing such staff directly, employers are increasingly turning to contractors and labour hire firms. However they need to be aware that taking this route does not necessarily absolve them of all their legal responsibilities that apply when hiring an employee.




Many employers think that if they hire an independent contractor to carry out work they simply pay the bill at the end of the job and each party goes their separate ways. While this may be true in most cases the law may still class them as an employee and all of an employer’s obligations to them (superannuation, tax, workers compensation, annual leave etc.) will still apply.


Although there are a number of factors which can help employers determine the difference between an employee and an independent contractor, there is unfortunately no single indicator that can determine if a person is one or the other. In the event of a dispute, courts will always look at the totality of the relationship between the two parties before making a decision. For guidelines visit Fair Work Australia and the National Farmers Federation


Labour hire firms (LHF)

Although a LHF provides access to labour and is responsible for the payment and administration of all employment costs, if something were to go awry, the employer is ultimately responsible.


Whilst the vast majority of these firms do everything above board, there are unfortunately a small number of questionable firms that may underpay their workers, use illegal workers or fail to pay workers their entitlements, including superannuation. Employers can try to protect themselves by having the LHF sign a contract spelling out each parties’ obligations, including that the LHF must notify the relevant super fund they are paying superannuation guarantee (SG) payments on your behalf.


Seasonal workers leaving Australia

Temporary residents who work in Australia, and have super contributions paid by their employer, may be  entitled to receive their super benefits once they leave Australia. This payment is called a departing Australia superannuation payment (DASP). This doesn’t apply to New Zealand citizens, who may have retiring rights in Australia.


DASP claims can be  made to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) either using their online payment system at  or by completing an Application for a departing Australia superannuation payment form available from the ATO. 


The supporting information you will need to provide when applying for a DASP payment will depend on the amount of your benefit, there are different requirements for payments less than $5,000 compared to payments over $5,000.


To discuss any superannuation matter please contact Rod Stewart on 0428 558 158 or email him at


Prime Super is a not for profit Industry Superannuation Fund. This article contains general information only and does not take account of your personal circumstances. You should obtain personal advice where appropriate. Prime Super (ABN 60 562 335 823) is issued by Prime Super Pty Ltd (ABN 81 067 241 016, AFSL 219723). A Short-Form Product Disclosure Statement is available from the issuer by phoning 1800 675 839.