Labour Hire Licencing

It is common practice for businesses in Australia to utilise labour supply of some kind; whether it be ‘traditional’ labour hire, third party contractors or use of corporate group labour structures.

Given the attention of ‘anti-casualisation’ campaigns and the focus of unions and regulators on labour models, it is imperative for businesses to stay abreast of state based legislative activity in this area.

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 QLD (the Act) establishes a mandatory licensing scheme for all labour hire providers operating in Queensland. There is also legislation in Victoria and in South Australia (the latter of which may soon be repealed). The federal opposition has also announced plans to put in placed a federal scheme if elected in 2019.

Requirement to be licensed

The Act requires persons to be licensed (Provider) if, in the course of carrying on a business, they supply a worker to another person to do work. In this case, they provide ‘labour hire’ services. This is a broad definition that can apply in a range of circumstances.

A ‘worker’ is a person who enters into an arrangement with a labour hire provider, under which the provider:

  • May supply the person to another person to do work; and
  • Is obliged, in whole or part, to pay the worker for the work.

If you supply a worker or workers to work for another business or person, you should consider whether you are operating as a labour hire provider. If you are, you need to be licensed.

Large fines for failing to be licensed

Businesses required to obtain a license under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Act) are at risk of penalties up to $130,439 or 3 years imprisonment – for an individual or $378,450 – for a company if they do not comply. So too are businesses that simply make use of unlicensed labour.

  • The labour hire schemes in Queensland, South Australia (until legislation is repealed) and Victoria make it unlawful to operate as a labour hire services provider without a licence.
  • The scope of the legislation is deliberately broad. The schemes generally apply to any supply of a worker to do work at a host business (capturing ‘non-traditional’ labour hire as an instance of “labour hire” for the purposes of the scheme).
  • The regulations make clear that the ‘group company’ exception only applies where the companies carry on their operations collectively as one recognisable business. So, groups that within it have multiple recognizable businesses, and have employees that are supplied by one company to another operating a different business, may be covered. This means companies within one group may need a labour hire license to provide workers to another entity within the same group unless the workers supplied can be said to be an in house employee supplied on a temporary basis (or unless one of the other exceptions apply).
  • In Queensland, there are a number of important exemptions.
  • It is an offence to enter into an arrangement with an unlicensed supplier of labour hire.

How can we help?

If you are unsure of your businesses responsibilities under this legislation, get in touch. We can:

    • provide advice regarding whether you are required to be licensed under any of the schemes,
    • provide advice regarding whether your contractors/labour suppliers are required to be licensed,
    • assist you with:
      • making an application for a labour hire license,
      • with bi annual reporting obligations,
      • interacting with the Labour Hire Licensing Unit (including in relation to its powers to inspect documents, premises, etc), and
      • defending alleged breaches of the legislation.

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