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  • Writer's pictureJohn Macedo

What does a General Labourer do? Construction Labour Work Explained

Updated: May 27, 2022

General Labourers and Skilled Labourers play an important role in construction jobs. They are responsible for tasks such as the construction site maintenance and helping the other construction workers and site supervisors.

▶️In this blog post, we will take a closer look at what a construction labourer does on a daily basis and explain Construction Labour Work in general. So let's start from the beginning.👇

What is Construction Labouring?

A "Labourer" refers to a general worker who is capable of multiple physical intensive manual tasks. It is a position mainly found in the construction and building industries.

For those who don't know, Labourers are responsible for manual jobs such as digging trenches, site cleaning, unloading building materials, preparing job sites, general tradesman assistance, etc.

General Labourer Tasks and Duties:

▶️General labourers are expected to know how to use tools like shovels, spades pickaxes, sledgehammers, wheel barrels, crowbars, etc. And power tools like jackhammers, grinders, saws, etc.

Skilled labourer Duties:

Skilled Labourers are expected to know how to use a broader range of tools, including all the hand tools and manual tasks mentioned above plus smaller tools like hammers, drills, levels, lasers, etc. Skilled labourers are often expected to operate machines like scissor lifts, hoists, small excavators, etc.

Here is a list of trades that usually use General Labourers and Skilled Labourers together:

  • Demolition

  • Construction/Building

  • Renovation

  • Welding/Boilermaking

  • Steel Fixing

  • Concreting

  • Formwork

  • Civil works

  • Excavation

  • Bricklaying

  • Piling

  • Plastering

  • Painting

  • Floor laying

  • Landscaping

  • Joinery

  • Electricians

  • Plumbers

✅Tasks, duties and responsibilities.

Most labourer jobs tasks relate to helping qualified tradespeople such as the ones listed above as a support person.

  • Manual duties such as material loading and unloading, cleaning tools, operating machinery, preparing job sites, and digging trenches.

  • They understand how various building materials are and obey safety protocols when using certain building products and equipment.

  • Following written or verbal directions from the supervisor and ensuring that activities are performed on schedule.

  • Proactive attitude to execute various tasks. As a labourer, you must remember: You are there to support the tradesmen with the completion of the job. You should be keen to do whatever task is necessary to help with the job completion.

  • Keep the work environment SAFE.

👉 Most companies don't expect you to have prior knowledge of specific tasks. They will offer a level of "on the job" training.

The following are the overall skills required for the successful completion of Labourer Jobs

  • A high level of physical fitness is required.

  • Ability to lift heavy objects.

  • Be physically fit.

  • Reading technical plans and drawings.

  • Paying close attention to detail.

  • Observance of safety protocols.

  • Follow instructions and perform duties.

  • Good-enough communication abilities.

  • Capability to work in any weather conditions.

  • Capability to work in confined areas and at great heights.

  • The ability to work with a variety of crews.

  • Understanding of building materials and methods.

  • Work safe around heavy machinery.

  • Assemble temporary structures like barricades.

  • Understand how to use power tools safely.

Minimum Requirements to be an in-demand labourer

✳️To be a labourer, you don't need any prior experience. However, If you're joining the workforce There are a few things that workers need. Here are the most basic requirements:

PPE (personal protective equipment)

You will also require personal protective equipment (PPE) (personal protective equipment). Safety is crucial for any construction project, and if you are not properly protected, you will not be permitted to work on any Sydney building site. PPE will often include, but is not limited to:

  • Boots with steel caps

  • Wear a high-visibility shirt or vest.

  • The hard hat

  • Gloves

  • Glasses

  • Work pants/Shorts

  • Ear protection

  • Sunscreen

  • Rain Cover

​👉🏻Some jobs may provide you with specific protective equipment (such as overalls or specific gloves and glasses). Always check with your employer whether you need any specific equipment or any additional safety qualifications to operate the equipment safely.

Make sure you only accept jobs for which you have the skill set necessary to execute. Don't use hand and power tools you're not familiar with. Always work safely

Master the Communication skills

You need to have enough English to understand and follow instructions.

Understandably, you may be an immigrant and you’re learning the language. If that is your case make sure you have some sort of translator on your phone that will facilitate the communication.

Construction White card

In order to work on-site, you need a white card. A white card course typically takes one day to complete and costs around $100. If you're not on a student visa, you may be able to complete it online. Check to see what alternatives are available for you.

➡️If you are completely new to the industry, we suggest you start by reading this post HERE. In it, we cover all the bare minimum requirements to join the industry in detail.

Pen and Paper/Timesheets

Most companies still use a paper timesheet system. You will need to fill out your timesheet every day and submit it at the end as soon as your labouring jobs end.

Some companies have an electronic system, but you may still need a physical pen and paper to sign in each day if you run out of battery in your phone.

At the end of your shift, make sure you get a signature from your supervisor so that you can be paid for your work.

Can General Labourers become Skilled Labourers?

Specialization is the first step to earning more money in this industry.

The difference between the two types of labourers (General and Skills) refers to the experience each worker has in a specific trade, and their work ethic and attitude.

⚠️Skilled Labourers have more years of extensive experience and are capable of executing more specialized or delicate tasks and job type.

As a rule of thumb: A General Labourer will become a Skilled Labourer who can later become a Tradesman (if acquire the formal qualifications).

If this is a path you want to take we suggest you join a company as a General Labourer and develop your skills. Once you gained enough skill and knowledge you may be promoted to Skilled Labourer based on your productivity.

Do you want to understand how to make more money in the construction industry? Click the link below! 👇

Guarantee employment with a higher salary by acquiring licenses.

Another way to become what is considered a Skilled Labourer is to acquire specific training and licenses, which usually means a better pay rate. This might not get you a permanent full time job but guarantees steady work opportunities.

Here is a list of common construction licenses that only takes a couple of days to acquire and may get you a pay rise:

  • Blue/Yellow/Red cards (Traffic controlling)

  • Working at Heights

  • Confined Space

  • Scissor lift/Elevated Platform

  • Boom Lift

  • First Aid

  • Telehandler

  • Forklift License

And many more.

You can also work with hazardous materials such as lead, asbestos, and chemicals. Typically, certification is required for these positions. Not only that, but Labourers can acquire tickets/licenses.

If you wish to understand a bit more about what are the duties for these positions, we suggest you start by starting here first 👆 5 Tips On How To Be a Better Labourer.

Whether you are interested in finding a job in a construction company, finding a job with a labour-hire or just want to become a more professional labourer and get a pay rise, it is vital to know some of the most important attributes every construction worker should possess.

Are Labourers and Appendices the same?

⚠️The answer is, "NO."

A labourer's role entails performing physical trade work as supporting staff for the tradesman; thus, there is no need for prior experience or formal education.

Apprentices are people who have taken specific training to become a tradesman and are now perfecting their trade skills. The appendices' salaries are usually lower than the general labourers'.

If you want to become an apprentice here are a couple of tips:

  • Choose an industry (for example, construction, landscaping, or demolition) and complete training with a registered organization to receive a certification.

  • Consider taking a TAFE course, such as a Certificate I in Construction, to supplement your work experience.

Construction sites Working Conditions

Construction sites can be dangerous. That is why there are so many safety rules in place. You need to make sure you follow all the safety procedures to avoid any accidents.

Some of the safety rules include:

  • Wear the correct PPE (personal protective equipment) at all times.

  • Follow the traffic management plans.

  • Do not work near live electrical wires.

  • Be aware of potential hazards.

  • Report any unsafe working conditions to your supervisor.

  • The work environment may be dirty and dusty, so you may need a mask.

Construction Working Hours and Breaks

Most labourer jobs are outside and have early start and finish times. It may be ideal for early risers since it offers you the opportunity to finish work with plenty of daylight left.

Working times are defined by each company. The standard construction times are 7 am to 3:30 pm. With a 15 minutes break mid-morning followed by a 30-minute unpaid break at lunchtime.

Also, most companies have a 4 hours minimum policy. It means that if a worker shows up to work but their job is cancelled they are still entitled to four hours of pay.

✅Pro tip: Pack your lunch

As you would imagine, you will be working on a job site that won’t necessarily be close to anything. Most job sites offer a lunch shed where you can warm up your food. But you may not be close to any restaurants.

Make sure to ask your employer about the job location so you know how to prepare.

Construction and Weather Conditions

General Labourer jobs typically include working outside in various weather situations. Consider that you may work in the rain and sun, so always dress properly.

Depending on the firm, weather conditions may differ somewhat. Most of them set a maximum temperature at which they will cease functioning and the maximum millimeters of rainfall that they will endure before shutting down.

It is expected that a worker is capable of working under the weather in a manner that does not affect their health. Always be informed about your company's weather policies.

Casual Hiring vs Full Time

Some companies order casual labourers on a casual basis as needed.

In this case, individuals are called upon to undertake ordinary labourer activities and skilled tasks upon request. This may include a job for a day or a few weeks just to supply the extra labour force they need to complete a job.

If a worker proves himself to be great, sometimes they get offered full time construction work positions in the company they are with.

⚠️Keep in mind that working on a casual basis may represent higher rates. Since full-time workers have more stability but get paid slightly less.

Labourers Salary/Pay Rates

Most workers are paid at an hourly rate. the usual pay for a labourer (Skilled and General) is from $28 to $35 per hour. Superannuation and allowances (meal and travel) may apply depending on the location of the construction sites.

⚠️ Construction workers get paid more than office workers because construction work is hard and involves more risk and harder worker conditions. Make sure you're ok with that before joining the construction industry.


In conclusion, construction labourers play an important role in the construction industry. They provide support to tradesmen and apprentices and ensure that safety procedures are followed at all times.

If you're interested in becoming a construction labourer, make sure you have the necessary skills and attributes. And always dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Thanks for reading! We hope this article was helpful.

🌟 Bonus tip for finding Labour jobs 👇

Looking for other labour hire jobs? Join Facebook Groups like Labour Hire Sydney and others with similar names, like "Labour Jobs Sydney".

The risk here is that there are a few employers that can be dodgy. So do a deeper search to make sure the company is legit before accepting any work.

Do you want to become join Spades Labour Hire as a construction labourer? Are you available for an immediate start? Click here to sign up with us: Work With Us| Spades Labour Hire.


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