By Michael Selinger
The latest jurisdiction to implement new labour hire licensing laws has been Victoria with the passing on 20 June 2018 of the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017.
Like Queensland and South Australia, the scheme is in response to concerns regarding the exploitation of vulnerable workers. In the case of Victoria, these concerns were raised following an inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work in Victoria. The inquiry uncovered many examples of worker abuse and exploitation.
And as with the other state schemes, providers of labour hire services will be required to hold a licence and hosts will be required to only use licensed providers. Significant penalties apply – corporations providing services without a licence, or companies using an unlicensed operator, face fines of up to $507,424 – the highest in the country.
To obtain a licence, providers will need to pass “a fit and proper person test” and show compliance with workplace laws, labour hire laws, and minimum accommodation standards.
The legislation also means licensed providers will be listed on a publicly accessible register. The register will be maintained by a new Labour Hire Licensing Authority, which will also employ inspectors to monitor and enforce compliance.
Licences can be held for only three years and licensees must report annually on their activities and compliance history. As with the other schemes, objections to a person applying for a licence can be made by an interested person, being someone who has an interest in the protection of workers or the integrity of the labour hire industry. This is likely to include unions and agencies, such as the Fair Work Ombudsman.
Businesses will be able to apply for a licence from next year.
In all likelihood, similar schemes will be introduced into other jurisdictions in the next few years.
If your business uses labour hire, then you must be alert to these schemes or otherwise face the risk of incurring a penalty if a non-licensed provider is being used.
And although the schemes are mostly similar, it will be important to review in detail the schemes that apply in the jurisdictions in which you operate, to ensure that you are complying.