New laws starting 16 April 2018 mean that all Labour Hire companies operating in Queensland must be licensed and operators will need to pass a ‘fit and proper person test’ to establish that they comply with all relevant laws and that their business is financially viable.
All labour hire companies must have applied for their licence by 15 June 2018.These laws were fought for and won by Queensland union members.
Why are these laws needed?
Parts of the labour hire industry have a poor reputation for complying with laws that protect workers. Too often, Queensland workers have reported appalling health and safety standards, wage theft with payments below the legal minimum, no shift or weekend loadings, no superannuation and no workers compensation insurance.
Unscrupulous labour hire operators count on host employers not caring whether they are complying with the law and they believe the benefits of exploiting their workforce outweighs the risk and consequence of getting caught.
How does licensing weed out unscrupulous employers?
Every Labour Hire firm operating in Queensland will need a license and any labour hire arrangement can only use a licensed labour hire operator. Licenses must be renewed every twelve months.
To get a license, operators must pass a fit and proper person test which will consider:
- the person’s character (such as their honesty, integrity and professionalism); and
- the person’s history of compliance with work health and safety, superannuation and other relevant laws; and
- whether they can demonstrate an ability to comply with relevant laws, including whether they have the financial ability to pay legal wages.
If a labour hire operator breaks a relevant law, they may have their license suspended or revoked as well as face significant fines.
If they operate without a license, an individual will face fines up to $126,044.60 or three years’ imprisonment, while a corporation will face fines up to $365,700. The same applies to any host employer who uses an unlicensed labour hire provider.
How will the laws help workers?
The fit and proper person test will help ensure that labour hire providers have the ability to pay workers their lawful entitlements and will also make them demonstrate a history of complying with the law. That gives workers more assurance that their employer will do the right thing.
Host employers face serious penalties if they enter into an arrangement with an unlicensed labour hire firm or if they enter into an arrangement where they know, or should reasonably know, that workplace or other relevant laws are being broken.
Strong penalties, including prison terms, will act as an incentive for labour hire firms and host employers alike to do the right thing.
If a worker is caught stealing from their employer, they will most likely lose their job. Now, labour hire employers who steal from their workers will face significant penalties and face the prospect of losing their right to operate.
How will I know if a labour hire firm is licensed?
Licenced labour hire operators will be registered and the name of their company and other relevant information will be listed on a Government website www.labourhire.qld.gov.au or call 1300 576 088.