By Samantha Abbott

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (“the Act”) commences on 16 April 2018.

The Act responds to the Report of the Queensland Finance and Administration Parliamentary Committee Inquiry, released on 30 June 2016, which contained evidence of exploitation of labour hire workers including mistreatment of workers, not providing appropriate safety and training, avoiding responsibilities by ‘phoenixing’ businesses, undercutting conditions and sham contracting.

A key finding of the Inquiry was that labour hire workers tend to have poorer employment conditions than their employed equals and have higher incidences of occupational injury due to lower familiarity with tasks, reduced training and supervision.

The Act establishes a mandatory Labour Hire Licensing Scheme to safeguard workers from exploitation by providers of labour hire services (“a provider”).

Scheme Application

Provider and worker

The scheme applies to a provider in Queensland who, during carrying on a business, supplies a worker to another person to do work.

The Act defines an individual is a worker for a provider, if the individual enters into an arrangement with the provider under which:

  1. the provider may supply, to another person, the individual to do work; and
  2. the provider is obliged to pay the individual for the work.

The Act requires a provider to comply with basic duties and obligations to obtain a license. Such requirements include the provider being fit and proper and the provider’s business being financially viable.

The Act includes examples of providers of labour hire services:

  • 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 2014that supplies an apprentice or trainee to an employer;
  • an employment agency who on-hires temporary administration staff to a business.

The Act is not intended to apply to principal and subcontractor agreements within the within the meaning of the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004.

Labour hire user

The scheme requires that users of labour hire services in Queensland only engage a licensed provider. Penalties apply if a labour hire user engages a non-licensed provider without reasonable excuse.

Users of labour hire and workers will be able search a free online register of licensed providers to confirm that they are dealing with a legitimate licensed provider.

Where to from here

From 16 April 2018, a provider will have 60 days to lodge an application for a licence. If an application is made within the 60-day period the requirements under the Act and penalties will not apply until the licence has been granted. A license is granted for 12 months and can be renewed by application.

If you are a provider of labour hire services, we recommend you review your business operations in preparation for applying for a license to ensure you will meet the criteria under the Act.

Likewise, if your business engages providers of labour hire services, we recommend you review your arrangements with the businesses you currently engage and implement protocols to check those businesses become licensed after 16 April 2018.

Workplace Health and Safety offers further information and a link to register for updates on the scheme which can be accessed here:https://www.worksafe.qld.gov.au/news/2018/regulation-of-the-labour-hire-industry-in-queensland

If you need expert advice on labour hire arrangements or issues, please contact BTLawyers on 07 3211 2233 or by email to samantha.abbott@btlawyers.com.au