New Queensland Labor Hire Licensing Laws

The Queensland Labor Hire Licensing Act in Australia commenced on 16 April 2018 introducing a mandatory licensing requirement for labor hire service providers. The enactment of the Queensland labor hire licensing act follows the completion of a parliamentary inquiry into the labor hire practices in Queensland. The findings, documented in a Report of the Queensland Finance and Administration Committee, showed evidence of exploitation of workers in the labor hire industry. It was revealed that labor hire workers are faced with a much greater risk of getting injured in the course of their work.

The contributing factors are:

  1. Labor hire workers receive limited job training and supervision. As a result, they are often deployed to work on tasks that beyond their capabilities.
  2. Due to a perceived job insecurity, labor hire workers acquire an unwillingness to raise workplace health and safety issues to their labor hire providers.
  3. Supervision and monitoring of labor hire workers’ work activities fall short due to the limited capacity of labor hire providers.
  4. Safe work systems between labor hire providers and employees lack clarity surrounding division of responsibility, assessment of work sustainability and implementation of safe work systems.

The Queensland Labor Hire Licensing Act

The Labor Hire Licensing Act 2017 (the Act) establishes a mandatory licensing scheme for all labor hire providers operating in Queensland. Users of labor hire services can only use a licensed labor hire provider.

In a bid to combat the evident exploitation, the act was coined to serve the purpose of:

  • Promoting the integrity of the labor hire industry
  • Protecting workers from exploitation by the labor hire service providers

Key Features of the Queensland Labor Hire Licensing Act:

  • Employers or labor hire providers must be issued with a license in order to operate in Queensland.
  • Persons looking for work should only engage with licensed labor providers.
  • Labor hire licensees must satisfy a ‘fit and proper person’ test to establish that they are capable of providing labor hire services in compliance with all the relevant laws.
  • Labor hire businesses must be financially viable.
  • With relevance to the law, six monthly reports on labor hire and associated activities like accommodation are required from licensees.
  • Establishing a labor hire licensing compliance unit with a field services inspectorate with responsibility for awareness, monitoring, and enforcement functions.
  • New hefty penalties of up to $378,000 for corporations for breach of any licensee obligations.

The Labor Hire Licensing Regulations 2018

Following the commencement of the Labor Hire Licensing Act on Monday 16 April 2018, the Queensland Parliament published regulations. The labor hire licensing regulations were released to give further guidance as to how the Act should be interpreted and implemented and how the overall licensing scheme will operate. They clarify the scope of the licensing regime and the information that must accompany an application for the labor hire license.

Who is and isn’t affected by the licensing regime:

As per the Act, the two main groups of people affected by the new regime are labor hire providers and workers, as defined below:

  1. Labor Hire Service Provider – A person or provider who provides labor hire services. In the course of carrying on a business, the labor hire service provider supplies to another person, such as a worker, to do work.
  2. Workers – An individual who enters into an agreement with a provider under which the provider may supply, to another person, the individual to do work and the provider is obliged to pay the worker, in whole or in part, for their work. However, the individual is not a worker if the individual is, or is of a class, as prescribed by regulation.

The regulation goes a step further and identifies the categories of individuals not identified as ‘workers’ for the purposes of the Act. These are:

  1. High income earners not covered by a modern award or enterprise agreement or Queensland’s industrial relations system.

Specific criteria:

An individual employed by a provider:

  • Whose annual base wages (excluding superannuation and other benefits) are equal to or more than the amount of the high income threshold under section 333 of the Fair Work Act 2009.
  • Other than under an industrial instrument under the Industrial Relations Act 2016
  1. Secondments and similar temporary arrangements (depending on the arrangement meeting the criteria specified)

Specific criteria:

An in-house- employee of a provider who the provider supplies to another person to do work on a temporary basis on more than one occasion.

  1. Internal labor hire (depending on the labor hire arrangement meeting the criteria specified)

Specific criteria:

An individual whm a provider supplies to another person to do work if the provider and the other person are each part of an entity or group of entities that carry on business collectively as one recognizable business.

Labor Hire License Application Requirements

The regulations prescribe a long list of information that must accompany an application for a labor hire license. This includes information about:

  • The business’s financial viability and the creditworthiness of entities associated with the business.
  • Work health and safety offenses and enforceable undertakings, and workers’ compensation obligations
  • Other licenses, accreditations or authorities to carry on a business
  • Convictions for serious criminal offenses, as well as other offenses against certain laws
  • Discrimination and sexual harassment matters
  • The regions in Queensland where the applicant provides, or intends to provide, labor hire services
  • The industries to which the applicant provides, or intends to provide, labor hire services.

The Queensland Labor Hire Licensing legislation is at the leading edge of reform in Australia.  It is the first state to pass such laws directly targeting the exploitation of workers.  However, the Victorian and South Australian governments have also publicly stated an intention to introduce similar laws in the near future.

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