Not so sunny in the Sunshine State for unlicensed labour hire providers

The Queensland government passed new laws recently to promote the integrity of the labour hire industry and protect workers from exploitation by providers of labour hire services. On 13 September 2017, the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Qld) (LHL Act) took effect.  The LHL Act establishes a new licensing scheme to regulate the provision of labour hire services in Queensland.

What does the LHL Act do?

The LHL Act:

  • requires any person who provides labour hire services in the state of Queensland to hold a licence; and
  • makes it unlawful for any person to enter into any arrangement with an unlicensed provider of labour hire services in Queensland.

The licensing scheme is intended to prevent the exploitation of workers in Queensland by labour hire providers. The LHL Act imposes a system whereby any person applying for a licence must establish they are a “fit and proper person” to provide labour hire services.  In determining whether an individual is a fit and proper person to provide labour hire services, the following matters will be relevant:

  1. The person’s character including, for example, the person’s honesty, integrity and professionalism.
  2. Whether the person:
    • has a history of compliance with relevant workplace laws (including for example record keeping, superannuation, tax and health and safety); or
    • is able to demonstrate an ability to comply with relevant laws.
  3. Whether a person has been convicted of an offence against a relevant law or another law that affects the person’s suitability to provide labour hire services.

The LHL Act imposes conditions upon licensees with respect to compliance with relevant laws.

Failure to comply with the LHL Act

Where a person either:

  1. provides labour hire services without a licence; or
  2. enters into an arrangement with an unlicensed provider of labour hire services,

the maximum penalty under the LHL Act is:

  • for an individual – 134 penalty units ($120,044.60) or three years imprisonment;
  • for a corporation – 3,000 penalty units ($365,070).

What should you do?

If you provide or receive labour hire services in Queensland, act now to:

  • ensure the provision of any services is appropriately licensed in accordance with the LHL Act; and/or
  • review existing arrangements with all labour hire service providers to ensure such providers are appropriately licensed in accordance with the LHL Act.

The LHL Act provides a defence in respect of persons who enter into arrangements with unlicensed providers being that the person must not, “without reasonable excuse”, enter into an arrangement with a provider who is unlicensed.  Notwithstanding, given the significant civil and criminal penalties associated with breach of the LHL Act, it is recommended that existing arrangements are reviewed to ensure compliance with the LHL Act.