Queensland’s Australian-first labour hire licensing scheme has just notched its fourth year of operation, having licensed more than 3,600 labour hire providers.
The scheme, which gives legitimate operators a level playing field by weeding out rogue operators and ensuring workers’ rights, is an Australian first. It grew out of revelations of serious exploitation of workers and inappropriate business practices by some labour hire providers.
In Queensland, all providers must be licensed to provide labour hire services and users of labour hire must only engage licensed providers. Licensees must demonstrate their ability to comply with state and Commonwealth laws, that they are financially viable, and fit and proper persons to provide labour hire services.
Just recently, the Government’s Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit revealed it had overseen 124 licences issued with conditions and 338 applications withdrawn or refused. More than 280 licences had been suspended and 95 licences cancelled.
Earlier this year, a North Queensland operator was fined $60,000 for illegally providing labour hire services in Bowen. The company was found guilty of breaches under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 , with the court told the defendant was fully aware of the licensing requirements having twice made an application.
The company was also specifically advised not to provide labour hire services while its application for a licence was being processed. The $60,000 fine is significant and serves as a stark reminder that those businesses who try to exploit labour hire workers risk facing the full brunt of the law.
As workers return to the industry, farmers and users of labour services should be mindful to only use licensed labour hire providers. To comply with the legislation, it is best to check the online labour hire licensee register before engaging a provider and keep evidence of this (i.e. take a screenshot). The online register has up-to-date licence details for each provider. Also, get a written contract that clearly identifies the provider, including its Australian Business Number, and keep it. It’s recommended to include an obligation to advise you of any change to a provider’s licence status (i.e. suspension or cancellation).
More information on labour hire is at www.labourhire.qld.gov.au