Following Queensland’s lead, last week Victoria’s Legislative Council passed the Labour Hire Licensing Bill into law.
From here, the Andrews Government will develop the overseeing authority for getting the bill live, including appointing a commissioner and designing an education campaign – a key component of the bill’s success.
From 2019, businesses in Victoria will be able to apply for a licence.
The scheme was initially for the sectors at greatest risk of worker exploitation like horticulture, meat and cleaning. Now however, and in response to a State inquiry into the sector, the Victorian Government has gone for a more ‘universal’ option, ensuring a broader requirement for compliance in the protection of workers.
Details of the scheme include:
- Providers of labour hire services in Victoria will be required to hold a licence
- Prospective labour hire operators will be required to undergo a ‘fit and proper person test’ in order to obtain a licence: where they’ll be required to demonstrate that the business and the people running it are capable of doing so, and are compliant with all workplace and labour hire industry laws
- There’ll be a public register of licensed providers, requiring users of labour hire services to use only those providers on the list
- A new statutory authority will oversee and enforce the legislation, with the power to ‘inspect and raid premises’. This authority will be headed by the new commissioner
- There will be severe penalties for both sides of the engagement, if a provider is not licenced: both the provider and the organisation engaging them
The Victorian Farmers Federation has been known to oppose the bill, citing a history of poor enforcement where labour hire abuses aren’t addressed. They see this new bill will simply add costs to primary producers in Victoria, rather than fix the problem. They’re also calling for a national approach to labour hire regulation.
Similarly, the Victorian Government continues to urge the Federal Government to develop a national scheme for labour hire licensing operators, in consultation with the states, in a submission to the Commonwealth Black Economy Taskforce. We’re yet to learn more on that front.