New rules: Australian States move toward licenses for labour hire operators

Licensing schemes for labour hire operators will commence operation in both Queensland and South Australia in the first half of 2018, with the Victorian Government also introducing legislation into the State Parliament.

The licensing schemes will commence in South Australia from 1 March 2018 and from 16 April 2018 in Queensland, while the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 is currently before the Victorian Parliament.

These legislative measures have been introduced to regulate the labour hire industry and address the exploitation of vulnerable workers by some labour hire operators. Parliamentary Committee Inquiries into the labour hire industry in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria revealed the rampant underpayment of wages and superannuation, provision of poor accommodation and non-compliance with work health and safety legislation. We provided an overview of the Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire and Insecure Work Report in our previous blog: Licence to labour hire.

Broadly, the scheme in each State will require labour hire operators to apply for a licence and pass a “fit and proper person test” in order to hold a licence.

The criteria for the “fit and proper person” test includes an assessment of:

  • Whether the person is generally of good character;

  • Whether there is history of compliance with workplace laws (including the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) and laws relating to taxation, superannuation, work health and safety and workers compensation and migration); and

  • Whether the person has previously been insolvent or was a director of a company that came under administration, receivership or liquidation.

Labour hire operators will also be required to provide regular reports on their activities and compliance with workplace laws.

Under each scheme, employers will be prohibited from obtaining labour hire services from labour hire operators who are unlicensed.

Compliance with the new legislation will be enforced by new compliance units, or in the case of Victoria, the proposed new Labour Hire Licensing Authority. Significant civil penalties apply for individuals and corporations who do not comply with the scheme. 

Labour hire employees are entitled to minimum terms and conditions and must be paid in accordance with the applicable modern award or enterprise agreement. The introduction of these schemes will seek to assist in ensuring compliance and addressing worker exploitation.

Shane Koelmeyer is a leading workplace relations lawyer and Director at Workplace Law. Workplace Law is a specialist law firm providing employers with legal advice, training and representation in all aspects of workplace relations, employment-related matters and WH&S.

02 9256 7500 |

Information provided in this blog is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Workplace Law does not accept liability for any loss or damage arising from reliance on the content of this blog. Where applicable, liability is limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation.

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