Guide to Contracting in Australia

Guide to Contracting in Australia

The Covid-19 pandemic has not only changed businesses, industries and communities, but has also reset the way we think and feel about our working lives. In the UK alone, over 50% of individuals currently working are considering taking up a new career altogether, and millions around the world are set on travelling for working experiences in different countries once travel quarantines allow.

Sunnier climates, a unique culture and excellent job opportunities are just some of the draws tempting freelancers around the world to travel across the pond in search of a new assignment. Generate’s payroll and contractor management specialists reveal everything you need to know about working in a contract role in Australia.

A Contract Workers’ Guide to Australia

1. Visas and Legal Working Rights in Australia

Australia offers numerous visa options for temporary and permanent employment, which are issued based on the qualifications and skill sets of the individual. The nation is particularly in need of Nurses, Secondary School Teachers and Software Programmers to fill skills gaps around the country.

Australia has one of the largest migration programmes in the world. Over 19,000 jobs are reserved for migrants every year, with 70% reserved for skilled migrants. The distribution of these visas every year depends on the most in-demand skills for that year. Contractors from overseas can enter the country through a Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS) visa. Skilled individuals with more than two years’ work experience are able to migrate to Australia and work in many industries for up to four years for companies facing skills shortages.

People under 30 are able to enter the country on a Working Holiday visa and take up short-term jobs for one year. This option is ideal for younger contract workers, as the visa allows individuals to leave and re-enter the country multiple times during this period, enabling temporary professionals to travel or work across neighbouring New Zealand, Indonesia and other Asian nations. This time period can also be broken up by up to four months of study for individuals looking to upskill in a different environment.

2. Finding Contracting Jobs in Australia

A thriving economy signals excellent career prospects for those looking into long-term contracts or extended stays as a freelancer or interim. Australia’s economy is the world’s 13th largest. In 2019 GDP grew by 1.84% more than the previous year, and despite the effects of the pandemic, the country’s economy is set to grow by almost 3% in 2021 and 2.8% again in 2022, with prosperity predicted for at least the next five years.

With opportunities in abundance, the most popular job boards enabling contractors to search for their next role include:

Whilst uploading your CV to a job board and applying for assignments is a great start, the most successful applicants will go the extra mile. Update your online profiles with your latest skills, knowledge, experience and activities that show your personality, to ensure you stand out and cement yourself in the memory of hiring managers. Register with an Australian recruitment company with consultants who specialise in placing international roles and helping contractors from overseas.

3. Tax in Australia

The country’s tax system differs from the UK and other countries that contractors may be more familiar with, but through the right research and attention to detail, the system can be beneficial for contract workers. Upon arrival, contractors moving to Australia must open an Australian bank account and contact the Australian Tax Office to obtain a Tax File Number (TFN).  The tax year runs from the 1st July until 30th June, and each individual and company must lodge a tax return at the end of each year. Contractors working directly for a company rather than through an agency must also pay attention to state payroll tax, which varies depending on the location you work in.

Individuals can claim several tax allowances including the Living Away from Home Allowance (LAFHA), which can cover food and accommodation whilst living away from your normal place of residence. Compliant umbrella companies can help you take advantage of this allowance.

Individuals working in Australia on a short-term basis are entitled to withdraw an accrued superannuation amount – similarly to a pension, this is paid at 9% of your rate/salary – upon departure. Although 1.5% of every worker’s salary will be deducted and paid into Australia’s Medicare system, individuals who are citizens of a country that hasn’t got a reciprocal health agreement with Australia can claim this back through their year-end tax return.

4. Enjoying the Best Aspects about Working in Australia

Australia has a tempting offering for new residents:

  • Weather – With climates ranging from desert to tropical depending on your location across the vast country, the nation is famous for its sunshine: Western Australia sees up to 286 days of sunshine every year.
  • Working Culture – Whilst workers in Australia are likely to be more productive and hardworking than some nations, the working culture is friendly and more relaxed than most around the world.
  • Pay – The costs of living are higher than some countries, but pay is high. Experienced Web Developers alone can make the equivalent of £85,000 annually, and high pay rates recognise the qualifications, skills and experiences of IT, Engineering and Construction contractors.
  • Quality of Life – Recently ranked as the second-best country to live in the world in a UN Report, the nation’s quality of life is far above average on a global scale. In the OECD Better Life Index the country scores highly across health, education, housing, environment, wellbeing and social connections.
  • Safety – As of 2020, violent crime is extremely low, with miniscule numbers of crime reported even in larger cities and more densely populated areas.
  • Multicultural Society – Home to the world’s oldest continuous cultures, people from more than 270 ancestries and a thriving expat community mean a variety of different cultural traditions and experiences to discover.

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