Impending Changes to Victorian Labour Hire Licensing

2 February 2018

The Victorian Government has introduced changes to its Labour Hire laws, presenting the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 (the Bill). The Bill creates a regulatory scheme which subjects labour hire providers to background checks, and ensures that they are “fit and proper” persons.

The stated intention of the Bill is to prevent exploitation of workers by labour hire operators, and establishes civil and criminal penalties for breach. The Bill is intentionally broad, covering multiple industry sectors, and amends the Public Administration Act 2004 (Vic), also establishing a Labour Hire Licensing Authority and Office of Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner.

Premier Daniel Andrews declared the Bill to be similar to labour hire legislation in jurisdictions such as Queensland and South Australia, and provides impetus for a uniform national scheme.

The similarities include:

  • Labour hire service providers will have to hold a licence and businesses will be required to only engage service providers who are licensed. Operators who breach this will be liable for civil and criminal penalties.
  • Licence providers must pass a fit and proper person test, necessitating compliance with relevant workplace laws and standards;
  • The establishment of the Labour Hire licensing Authority and a public register of labour hire providers.

Conversely, there are also significant differences between the Victorian Bill and those of other jurisdictions. These include:

  • The Bill contains more onerous requirements on labour hire operators, especially surrounding the detail that operators are expected to provide on matters such as the number of workers and their visa status;
  • Civil penalties are significantly higher;
  • Inspectors are given greater powers to enter and search premises without consent or a warrant.

Next Steps

The Bill is currently being reviewed and will foreseeably be debated in Parliament upon resumption in February. It is further intended that the Bill will come into operation at a selected date in 2019.

Businesses will also need to carefully examine the Bill and its various regulations to ensure adequate preparation for the Bill’s implementation. Hentys are experts in compliance for labour hire in Victoria and Australia wide and urge businesses to contact us immediately should you have any concerns.