Queensland first state to introduce new labour hire regime

27 April 2018

The first labour hire licensing regime has come into effect in Queensland just this week on the back of regulations published earlier in the year accompanying the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 (Qld). Workers earning more than $142 000 annually (the Fair Work Act’s current high-income threshold) are excluded from the regime, as are lawyers seconded to a client and medical centre businesses that employ workers through a trust entity.

The regime attempts to address concerns raised by industry groups about the relatively broad definition of labour hire, which did not take into account many of the diverse worker supply arrangements.

Recruitment Consulting and Staffing Association Australia and New Zealand chief executive Charles Cameron stated the regulations had done little to address concerns. He commented that “any licensing scheme needs to target the areas of greatest risk and avoid unnecessarily burdening those who are low risk with red tape.”

Mr Cameron argued the legislation was targeting the wrong industry groups; encapsulating professional services where there had been little evidence of exploitation. Moreover, it failed to include some contract services which parliamentary inquiries had frequently shown to have short-changed workers. He noted such conduct has been a particular issue in the horticulture and cleaning industries.

The Queensland Council of Unions however said the changes are “a positive step that shows the way for a national union campaign to change the rules around labour hire” and that the broad nature of the definition of labour hire will catch more operators misusing the law as was intended by the legislation.

Outside of Queensland, the Victorian Bill is yet to be passed with many hoping this will occur prior to the November election. In South Australia, the same does not appear likely with the new Industrial Relations Minister Mr Rob Lucas previously stating that the Liberal Party was ‘implacably opposed’ to enacting similar legislation. In Western Australia, such changes appear similarly unlikely with labour hire not included in the terms of reference in the current review of the state’s industrial relations framework.

Upon enactment, businesses will need to comply with the regulations.

Hentys Lawyers are experts in all facets of employment law and can assist employers to ensure compliance, risk management, strategy and prevention. If you are concerned about the way in which these changes may alter your obligations as an employer, or any other matter, please contact us immediately.