On Labour Day the Queensland Premier announced the introduction of a new licensing regime for labour hire operators. The stated purpose of the new laws is to “crack-down on rogue operators who are exploiting and mistreating vulnerable workers.”1

The new measures follow an inquiry by the Queensland Parliament, which raised concerns that some “rogue” labour hire operators, especially those that primarily engaged backpackers and foreign nationals, tended to avoid paying their employees their lawful entitlements.2

There were fewer concerns about labour hire operators in the black coal mining industry. However, some concerns were raised about, for example, reporting of health and safety issues.3

The proposed laws will mandate that all labour hire providers (including those in the black coal labour industry) operating in Queensland must hold a licence to operate. The Government says that the requirements of licensing will include:

  • passing a fit-and-proper person test;
  • complying with strict workplace laws, including workers’ compensation, wages and superannuation;
  • paying a licence fee;
  • reporting regularly on their operations; and\
  • divulging the number of employees they have engaged, along with the number of employees engaged through work visa arrangements.4
The Government also intends to establish a “compliance unit” to “check licence holders for continued compliance with their licence conditions, and to investigate complaints.”5

The Premier said that the new laws will “create a level playing field so ethical operators could compete fairly.”

Unfortunately this is a typical situation where the good operators in an industry are let down by the few businesses that do the wrong thing.

Hopefully a “silver lining” is that rogue operators that cut corners will either be forced out of business or forced to comply with workplace laws and so all labour hire businesses will be competing on a level playing field.

The Government intends to introduce legislation to Parliament later this month, and expects the scheme to come into effect in 2018.6

McKays will continue to monitor the situation, and we invite you to contact us for guidance about the proposed new laws and how they may affect your business.

1 Department of the Premier and Cabinet (Qld), ‘Mandatory licensing to crack down on rogue labour hire operators’ (Media Release, 1 May 20 17) <http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/5/1/mandatory-licensing-to-crack-down-on-rogue-labour-hire-operators>.
2 Finance and Administration Committee, Parliament of Queensland, Inquiry into the practices of the labour hire industry in Queensland (2016), chapter 5.
3 Finance and Administration Committee, Parliament of Queensland, Inquiry into the practices of the labour hire industry in Queensland (2016), 47-8.
4 Department of the Premier and Cabinet (Qld), ‘Mandatory licensing to crack down on rogue labour hire operators’ (Media Release, 1 May 2017) <http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/5/1/mandatory-licensing-to-crack-down-on-rogue-labour-hire-operators>.
5 Department of the Premier and Cabinet (Qld), ‘Mandatory licensing to crack down on rogue labour hire operators’ (Media Release, 1 May 2017) <http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/5/1/mandatory-licensing-to-crack-down-on-rogue-labour-hire-operators>.
6 Department of the Premier and Cabinet (Qld), ‘Mandatory licensing to crack down on rogue labour hire operators’ (Media Release, 1 May 2017) <http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2017/5/1/mandatory-licensing-to-crack-down-on-rogue-labour-hire-operators>.