It appears that the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 that is currently before the Queensland Parliament, is likely to pass through as legislation. Once passed, the Bill will apply to all Labour Hire providers operating in Queensland, and will also ban businesses from entering into labour hire arrangements with unlicensed providers.
Whilst the proposed Bill is Queensland specific, other States have indicated their intentions to adopt a similar strategy. Victoria, in particular, is already well down this path, having made a commitment to a Licensing scheme in May 2017, in response to the Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work. The Victorian Labor Government accepted 33 of the report’s 35 recommendations, and as part of these recommendations, is also advocating a national licensing scheme for labour hire operators.
The 2 main functions of the Queensland Bill are:
1/ It will establish a mandatory licensing scheme requiring all Labour Hire providers in Queensland to be licensed
2/ It will require all labour hire arrangements to be with licensed providers
For the purposes of the Bill, a Labour Hire provider is someone who, in the course of carrying on a business, supplies to another a worker to do work. Importantly, this applies regardless of:
- Whether the worker is an employee or not
- Whether the worker is supplied directly or indirectly
- Whether a contract is entered into between the worker and the provider, or the provider and the person to whom the worker is supplied
- Who controls the worker’s actual work
In order to obtain a license, Labour Hire providers will need to:
- Pass a fit-and-proper person test to establish that they comply with all relevant laws and that the business is financially viable
- Comply with workplace laws, including workers’ compensation, wages and superannuation
- Report regularly on their operations, including providing information on the number of employees they have engaged, how they are engaged, the type of work performed and where it is performed
The fit and proper person test takes into consideration a range of matters, including:
- The person’s character (such as their honesty, integrity and professionalism)
- The person’s history of compliance with relevant laws
- Whether they can demonstrate an ability to comply with relevant laws
The Queensland Government has stated that the licence fee, payable annually, will be $1000 for a small Labour Hire provider, $3000 for a medium provider and $5,000 for a large provider, although this is yet to be confirmed.
The Bill includes high penalties for the most serious contraventions, such as operating as a Labour Hire provider without a licence, entering into arrangements with unlicensed providers, and entering into arrangements intended to circumvent the Bill’s requirements. The maximum penalties for a breach of these provisions is 1,034 penalty units ($126,044.60) or three years’ imprisonment for an individual, or 3,000 penalty units ($365,700) for a corporation.
RPR Trades has long been an advocate of regulation for the labour hire sector. Unfortunately there have been far too many instances of unscrupulous providers causing distress to employees (and others), tarnishing the reputation of the industry in the process, therefore a good regulatory mechanism could be a step in the right direction to ensure that these instances are minimised, if not eradicated.
Having said that, we do feel that some of the clauses in the current Bill are quite onerous, and do not necessarily correlate with the stated “Main Purposes of the Act” (e.g. Power to enter client workplaces), whilst many of the Reporting requirements seem ambiguous and administratively cumbersome, and in some cases, once again not particularly relevant to the “Main Purposes of the Act”.
As mentioned earlier, the Bill has not yet passed, however the general consensus is that the decision in imminent. It may be too late, but if you are vehemently opposed, now is the time to make some noise!
If you are a host employer or employee seeking to better understand your rights and obligations under the Labour Hire Licensing Bill, or simply how it will affect you, please feel free to contact the team at RPR Trades on 1300 311 777.