Victoria’s new labour hire licensing scheme officially started last week.

From 30 October, only labour hire providers that have been granted a licence, or have a decision pending on their application, are allowed to operate in Victoria.

The Victorian Labor Government has invested $8.5 million to set up the Bendigo-based Labour Hire Authority, which is responsible for licences, monitoring and enforcing compliance, as well as providing advice to the industry.

Since April 2019, more than 3,841 applications have been received, with 464 approvals to date. The Authority is working through compliance concerns with more than 30 per cent of applicants.

All providers who have made an application before the cut-off date can continue operating as per normal until a decision is made.

For more information visit labourhireauthority.vic.gov.au or call the Authority on 1300 545 200.

More prosecutions under Queensland’s labour hire laws

Three Queensland labour hire operators were prosecuted in the Caboolture Magistrates Court last month.

J&Jub Harvest Pty Ltd was convicted and fined $75,000 for operating without a licence under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017.

Hongsub Ji, the sole Director of J&Jub Harvest Pty Ltd was also convicted and fined $25,000 – with 180 days imprisonment in default of payment – for counselling, procuring or aiding the commission of the offence.

The Court also found Kleen Holdings Pty Ltd guilty and fined the company $50,000 for entering into an arrangement with the unlicensed J&Jub Harvest Pty Ltd providing them workers.

This is the first time a director has been prosecuted under the Act as a party to the offence, and also the first time a user has been prosecuted.

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 commenced on 16 April 2018 establishing a mandatory licensing scheme to protect labour hire workers and support responsible labour hire providers.

Scope to be narrowed for SA labour hire

The South Australia government is seeking amendments to the state’s labour hire laws to ensure sectors where workers are most vulnerable to exploitation are protected.

The state government’s proposed changes to the legislation follows concerns about the scope and application of the licensing scheme in its current form.

The Government is seeking to narrow the scope of the scheme to apply to labour hire providers operating within industries where workers are at a greater risk of exploitation due to the low-skilled, labour-intensive nature of the work that they are engaged to undertake.

It is proposed that the scope of the licensing scheme be narrowed to labour hire providers who provide workers to undertake the following types of work:

  • Horticulture processing
  • Meat processing
  • Seafood processing
  • Cleaning
  • Trolley collection

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 requires labour hire providers in South Australia to be licensed.

AMMA’s position

The Federal Government has announced it would create a National Labour Hire Registration Scheme as part of adopting in full 22 recommendations from the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce final report.

AMMA has strongly voiced its opposition to indiscriminate labour hire licensing schemes, such as those introduced by the Queensland, Victorian and South Australian Governments, which were proposed nationally by the ALP Federal Opposition heading into the 2019 Election.

A key basis for AMMA’s position is that exploitation of labour hire employees had only been identified in a limited number of sectors, and not the resources and energy industry where labour hire is a valuable, responsible and commercially necessary employment model.

While AMMA does not in-principle support the introduction of any National Labour Hire Registration Scheme, the model proposed by the Taskforce is more appropriately targeted to those industries where concerns about labour hire practices have been identified. Further, any potential for a single jurisdiction national labour hire licensing scheme as opposed to various state-based schemes, should be pursued in the interests of reducing regulatory burden and costs for employers.

For more information or a discussion about labour hire licensing, contact [email protected]