Does your business or organisation use labour hire workers? If so, you should be aware that new labour hire laws are coming into effect in Victorian on 29 April 2019. The laws are a response to concerns about the suspected exploitation of vulnerable workers by labour hire providers. At present, the only other jurisdiction in Australia with a statutory labour hire scheme is Queensland.
What are the key features of the new laws?
Under the Victorian Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018, labour hire providers will have until 29 October 2019 to apply for and be granted a licence to operate in Victoria.
Licences will be able to be obtained from the Labour Hire Licencing Authority and will be granted for a period of no more than 3 years. To acquire and maintain a licence, labour hire providers will need to pass a “fit and proper person” test. To pass this test, companies will need to establish, among other things, past compliance with the applicable employment, tax, immigration, and workplace health and safety laws.
Any labour hire providers who operate without a licence will be exposed to significant sanctions, including fines in excess of $500,000 for corporations. Likewise, any business or organisation that uses an unlicensed labour hire provider will face similar fines.
In addition to issuing licences, the new Victorian Labour Hire Authority will employ Inspectors whose role will be to promote compliance with, and to enforce, the licensing system. Inspectors will have a range of powers, including to enter and search premises, examine and seize anything suspected of being connected with a possible contravention, and to inspect, copy or take extracts from documents on the premises and make images or recordings.
Implications for Employers
If your business or organisation uses labour hire workers in Victoria, you should start enquiring with the providers as to their intentions with respect to applying for a licence. You should also start reviewing your agreements with labour hire companies to ensure they appropriately reflect the requirements of the new labour hire scheme.
This article is general commentary on a topical issue and does not constitute legal advice. If you are concerned about any topics covered in this article, we recommend that you seek legal advice.