As published in the Daily Mercury on 15 March 2018.

 
IN JUST over four weeks, it will be an offence to provide labour when unlicensed or to engage labour from an unlicensed provider.

A breach of this new law carries series penalties, such as fines potentially in excess of $300,000 PER company breach, and possible imprisonment for an individual.

These laws arise from Parliament being fed up at the exploitation of workers, saying "Far too long and far too often have we all heard the stories of vulnerable workers being exploited at the hands of unscrupulous labour hire operators".

Who is caught? A lot of businesses....as it will apply to all "labour hire providers" as well as those engaging labour from labour hire providers.

A labour hire provider is essentially a business who provides another person (a worker) to do work.

As the legislation is still being developed, it is currently unclear how widely the net will reach.

It could potentially include:

  • A sole director/worker company that contracts to the mines;
  • "Captive" labour hire where labour services aren't offered outside the company group; and
  • Secondment.
 
There is also confusion around true contracting where the company simply provides a service/solution. This should be cleared up once the supporting Regulations are issued.
 
The uncertainty around the laws is concerning as the licensing scheme commences on April 16, 2018 after which labour hire providers will only have 60 days to apply for a licence - or face penalties!
 
Queensland is the first state in Australia to introduce laws requiring labour hire providers to be licensed.
 
What should companies do? First, stay up to date with the new laws. Second, if you may be a labour hire provider be ready to lodge an application soon after 16th April.
 
Third, check your company structure and status of your financial accounts to be well positioned to pass the "fit and proper person" and "financial viability" tests for the application process. Fourth, don't panic, yet.
 

 
Scott McSwan is an expert in Industrial Relations Law.  He can be contacted on 4963 0888 or [email protected]