Victorian Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 Follows Similar Moves In QLD and SA
On Thursday (8 February 2018) the Labor Hire Licensing Bill 2017 (Vic) (the Bill) passed the Victorian Legislation Assembly and was introduced into the Victorian Legislative Council, bringing Victoria closer to the enactment of labour hire laws similar to those which have already been enacted in Queensland and South Australia. The Bill in broad terms:
- provides for the regulation and licensing of the providers of labour hire services,
- establishes the Labour Hire Licensing Authority and
- creates the office of Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner.
The new scheme was a response to the Victorian inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work which uncovered widespread abuse and exploitation of workers across Victoria. The inquiry was announced in September 2015 by the Victorian Minister for Industrial Relations, Ms Natalie Hutchins MP, and was tasked to:
The Inquiry was chaired by Professor Anthony Forsyth of the RMIT University Graduate School of Business and Law.
The initial inquiry came about as a reaction to various media reports in the area of "labour hire" pointing out the wide extent of the problems in this area, where:
Monash University studies had shown that: ". . . 80 percent of foreign language advertisements [were] offering wages below legal rates. Many of them are openly advertised as 'black jobs'".
Key Provisions of Legislation
In response to the exploitation discovered by the report, the Labor Government introduced the Bill which establishes a universal licensing scheme to protect labour hire workers across all sectors to be run by an independent Labour Hire Licensing Authority.
Under the new scheme proposed by the Bill:
- providers of labour hire services will be required to hold a licence, and those hosting workers will be required to only use licensed providers
- to obtain a licence, providers will be required to pass “a fit and proper person test” and show compliance with workplace laws, labour hire laws, and minimum accommodation standards
- licensed providers will be listed on a publicly accessible register
- an inspectorate within the Authority will monitor and investigate compliance with the scheme
- rogue operators that do not comply or attempt to flout the scheme will be liable for hefty civil and criminal penalties.
The Victorian Government, according to the Premier, has set aside funding of $8.5 million to establish the Authority and the scheme in 2018 when the Bill is enacted.
Comments by the Government
The Victorian Premier has noted that:
The Acting Minister for Industrial Relations has pointed out that “. . . Under the new scheme, businesses will need to be licenced and treat their workers fairly or face hefty penalties.”
Scheme Comparable to Queensland and South Australia
The scheme is broadly similar to labour hire licensing schemes already enacted in South Australia and Queensland, and according to the Victorian Premier will provide further impetus for the implementation of a national scheme.
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Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 and explanatory material as reported in the TimeBase LawOne Service.