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20th September 2017

Analysis of the Labour Hire Licencing Laws – How it Affected Growers

Analysis of the Labour Hire Licencing Laws – How it Affected Growers

In a meeting in Bundaberg last week the Queensland Industrial Relations Minister, The Hon Grace Grace, discussed how the new Labour Hire Licencing Act would affect the Horticulture Industry in Queensland.

The new Act has been introduced to regulate the labour hire industry in Queensland.  It applies to all industries and professions within Queensland, but has largely arisen out of the abuses within the Horticulture Industry.

Who Does It Apply To?

The Act requires all persons providing labour hire services to register as a labour hirer.  Under the Act, a Grower could be classed as a labour hire provider.

Labour hire businesses include:

  1. the traditional understanding of a labour hire business (ie a business employing employees and providing those employees to work on a farm)
  2. labour hire arrangements between a corporate group (ie one company employs all staff and hires those employees out to a related company that might own the land)
  3. non-traditional labour hire arrangements where a grower might own land in one company (that might be the grower’s super fund) and employs staff in another company (the business entity company)
  4. traditional hostel/labour hire businesses (ie where backpackers live in a hostel and are employed by that hostel and are hired out to a farm)
  5. non-traditional hostel arrangements (ie where backpackers who live in the hostel are simply driven to the farm of their choice to perform work and picked up at the end of the day in exchange for a transport fee)

What Happens If You Don’t Comply

If a Grower uses a labour hire provider who is not registered the Grower faces a penalty of $378,450 for a company and $130,439.10 for an individual for each breach.

A person or company that provides labour hire without being licenced is exposed to the same penalty amount.

When Do You Need to Comply By?

The legislation has been passed in Parliament but the commencement date has not yet been set.  It is expected to start early 2018.  When it does start, if you think you are a labour hire provider then you have 60 days to register.  Key an eye out for the commencement date and make sure you act quickly to register.

What Do You Need To Show to Get A Licence?

The details of how to register are not yet known.  A Licencee needs to confirm that they comply with approximately 19 pieces of legislation.  When quizzed on how a business could prove this, the Minister said that it will probably just be a statutory declaration that needs to be signed.

This will be the key to the success or failure of this legislation.  If it is too difficult to prove compliance then it will just be another crippling piece of red tape for small businesses to comply with.  If the test is not rigorous enough it will mean that the “shonky” operators (the Minister’s words) will just sign the paperwork and continue with their shonky practices.

The cost of registration will range from $1000 to $5000 depending on the size of the operation.

What Do I Need To Do Now

You should have a formal labour hire agreement between your business and the labour hire business you use already.

You should also be regularly checking your labour hire provider is complying with the Fair Work Act, the Superannuation Guarantee Legislation and Work Health and Safety Act.

If you as a grower have a multi-level corporate structure you will need to apply to register as a labour hire provider within 60 days of the legislation being enacted.

If you are a labour hire provider you will need to apply to register within 60 days of the legislation being enacted.

Any Questions?

If you have any further questions regarding this issue please contact Michael Waters of MRH Lawyers on P: 41545510 | E: michaelwaters@mrh.com.au.