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Sex work

Sex work is the provision by one person to or for another person of sexual services in return for payment or reward.

Sex work service provider

A sex work service provider is a person carrying on business of a kind referred to as a brothel and/or escort agency.


A brothel is any premises used for the purpose of providing sex work services.

Brothel manager

A brothel must be supervised personally by the licensee or by an approved manager when open for business. You can only manage a brothel if your application has been approved by the Business Licensing Authority (BLA).

Licensees must be satisfied that the manager can manage the business in their absence. Licensees are responsible if their approved manager breaches the Sex Work Act 1994 or Sex Work Regulations 2016.

Escort agency

An escort agency is a business that provides sex work services to persons at premises not made available by the agency.

Small owner operator (exempt sex work service providers)

Where only one person carries on business as a sex work service provider, they are exempt from requiring a licence. They no longer have to register their details with the BLA to receive this exemption.

Small owner-operated businesses are not exempt if, for example, they:

  • have an arrangement with another person who refers clients to their business
  • refer clients to other sex workers not working in their business, or
  • are associated with another sex work service providing business (including another small owner-operated business).

A small owner-operated business is allowed to operate with a second sex work service provider and still rely on the exemption for small owner-operated businesses, provided that the second person is not employed by the small owner-operator.

For more information, view the Sex Work Decriminalisation Act 2022.