Do you provide or use labour hire services?  Important changes are coming for labour hire in Queensland and other jurisdictions

A labour hire licensing scheme will commence in Queensland, and it is expected that other states will follow suit.

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Act) was passed by the Queensland Parliament on 7 September 2017 and will commence on a date to be fixed by proclamation.  The intended purpose of the Act is to protect workers in labour hire arrangements from exploitation.  It is expected the scheme will commence in 2018.

Will the licensing scheme apply to you?

Application of the licensing scheme is broad and will cover all industries.  It will apply to all businesses engaged in the supply of workers under labour hire arrangements, with specific reference contained in the Act to the following:

  • a contractor who supplies workers to a farmer or fruit grower to pick produce for the farmer or grower;
  • a group training organisation or principal employer organisation under the Further Education and Training Act 2014 (Qld) that supplies an apprentice or trainee to an employer; and
  • an employment agency who on-hires temporary administration staff to a business.

Arrangements such as genuine recruitment, permanent placement and subcontracting in the construction industry will be excluded from falling within the scope of the scheme.

Obligations under the licensing scheme will extend to users of labour hire services and cover any labour hire arrangement under which a worker is performing work in Queensland, regardless of the state in which the provider or user business is registered.

Key aspects of the licensing scheme

The following is an overview of the key aspects of the Act:

  • Labour hire providers are required to be licensed;
  • Persons who engage labour hire providers must only engage a licensed labour hire provider;
  • Labour hire providers must satisfy a fit and proper person test to demonstrate they are capable of providing labour hire services in compliance with all relevant laws and that their business is financially viable;
  • Regular reporting obligations will be imposed on licence holders;
  • A range of offences and administrative sanctions will be created;
  • Strong penalties for breaches of obligations will be created; and
  • Awareness, monitoring and enforcement measures will be provided through a compliance unit.

What this means for companies and how to prepare

Companies who provide labour hire services will have 60 days from the commencement of the Act to apply for a licence.

For companies who use labour hire services, the licensing scheme imposes an obligation to use only licenced labour hire providers.  It is intended that a public register of licensed providers will be published to assist users in complying with their obligations.  In the meantime, users of labour hire services will need to ensure they request evidence of registration prior to engaging a provider.

The maximum penalty imposed on a company for providing labour hire services without a licence or engaging a labour hire provider that does not hold a licence will be $378,450.

What’s happening in other jurisdictions

This legislation is the first of its kind in Australia.  South Australia introduced a Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 into Parliament on 10 August 2017.  Victoria is expected to introduce labour hire legislation into Parliament later this year.

Companies operating in multiple states and territories of Australia should make sure they are aware of what is happening in this space.

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