Labour hire licencing laws are now in force in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The aim is to ensure that workers get at least safety net wages and conditions, have a safe workplace and are treated fairly and with respect. Labour hire providers in those states must have a licence and labour hire users can only use licenced providers. There are heavy penalties, including imprisonment, for breach of these requirements. The scope of the legislation is deliberately broad and not confined to particular industries. Labour hire providers can include contractors who supply workers to a farmer to pick produce, organisations supplying apprentices or trainees to a host employer and employment agencies providing on-hire temporary administration staff to a business. The requirements also cover agents and intermediaries and apply whether the worker is an employee or not and whether there is a formal contract or not.
In Queensland, there are some exclusions which may include genuine secondments and contracting and sub contracting arrangements, private employment agents, some high income workers and in house employees, volunteers and work experience students. The Queensland government’s website contains a list of labour hire examples for general guidance – labour hire examples. If in any doubt, a licence should be applied for.
There are stringent tests for applicants to obtain a licence. These include demonstrating that:
a. all relevant people are fit and proper to provide labour hire services;
b. the applicant’s business is financially viable;
c. there is a history of compliance with employment related laws including fair work, migration, work health and safety and workers’ compensation laws.
Regular six monthly reporting is required to maintain compliance with legal obligations. Each state has a public register of approved labour hire providers – Queensland register. Any breaches can be reported to the Fair Work Ombudsman, relevant union or the labour hire compliance unit in each state – Queensland labour hire compliance unit.
The laws impose wide ranging requirements with heavy penalties for breach and give workers a new avenue for complaint. Please contact us if you would like help in this area.