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Laws and compliance

Labour hire licensing laws

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (the Act) and the Labour Hire Licensing Regulation 2018 establish a mandatory labour hire licensing scheme to protect labour hire workers from exploitation and promote the integrity of the labour hire industry in Queensland. Key requirements include:

  • Labour hire providers need to be licensed to operate in Queensland.
  • People who engage labour hire providers must only engage licensed providers.
  • Six-monthly reporting by labour hire providers on their labour hire activities.

To obtain a licence applicants must demonstrate:

There are strong penalties for breaches of the Act enforced by the Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit (LHLCU).

Penalties and offences

Labour hire providers

The scheme recognises responsible labour hire providers through granting a licence and encourages high standards by requiring all labour hire providers to continue to meet their legal obligations.

Labour hire providers who do not comply with the Act are liable for a range of penalties. These include fines, suspension or cancellation of a licence and imprisonment.

The most serious offences for labour hire providers are:

  • providing labour hire services in Queensland without holding a licence
  • entering into avoidance arrangements.

These offences have a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment, or a fine.

Licensees also have other general obligations including:

  • compliance with legal obligations under relevant laws
  • providing six monthly reports on their activities
  • reporting prescribed changes in circumstances within 14 days
  • producing a copy of a licence if asked by an inspector, worker or other person
  • not selling, transferring or hiring out a licence to another person.

Failing to comply with these obligations may result in fines and/or a review of a licence status, including suspension or cancellation of the licence, or imposing conditions on the licence.

For further details refer to the Penalties and offences page.

Users of labour hire

Users of labour hire services must only use licensed labour hire providers. It is an offence to enter into:

These offences have a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment or a fine.

The scheme helps users of labour hire and workers find a licensed labour hire provider through the labour hire licensee register.

Avoidance arrangements

An avoidance arrangement is an arrangement that is designed to circumvent or avoid the requirement to have a licence to supply workers. The offence occurs if the person involved knows or should reasonably know that it is an avoidance arrangement.

An example of an avoidance arrangement is if a user of labour hire enters into an arrangement for the supply of workers and characterises the arrangement in contractual documents as something other than labour hire.

The scheme imposes strong penalties to deter labour hire providers and users from entering into arrangements which might benefit one or both and which undermines the integrity of genuine labour hire arrangements.

Relevant laws

The Act requires that as a condition of holding a labour hire licence, the licensee is compliant with relevant laws.

LHLCU works with other enforcement agencies to investigate matters of alleged non-compliance. If a provider is found to have breached these laws, the LHLCU may take action in relation to the licence, including suspension or cancellation of a licence.

How we inspect and investigate

The LHLCU is committed to protecting labour hire workers and supporting licensed labour hire providers.

All licence applications are reviewed using appropriate risk based compliance approaches.

LHLCU work with other State and Commonwealth Government departments to share information and conduct joint compliance activities as permitted by law. 

A formal investigation may also be started in response to significant allegations or issues regarding:

  • unlicensed activity
  • avoidance arrangements
  • fitness and propriety
  • failure to provide six monthly reports
  • non-renewal of a licence
  • referring an alleged breach of a relevant law.

As all decisions made are evidence based, our inspectors may ask for details about the operation of the labour hire business and its compliance with relevant laws during an audit or investigation.

During an audit or investigation our inspectors may:

  • inspect your workplace
  • interview persons (e.g. workers)
  • seize items of evidence
  • require certain documents to be provided (such as worker's terms and conditions of employment or wage books).

What happens after an audit or investigation?

If an audit or investigation finds that a licence holder has breached the Act or relevant laws, depending on the circumstances their licence may be cancelled or suspended. If this occurs, the business must immediately stop supplying workers.

The LHLCU may also make a recommendation for legal proceedings. Legal proceedings may be taken where an inspector has obtained sufficient evidence and it is in public interest to respond to the issue of non-compliance.

Outcomes of successful prosecutions for offences may also be published to draw attention to the consequences of non-compliance and the need for fairness in workplaces.

In less serious cases, a licensee may receive education, or have conditions imposed on their licence to allow them to address the issue of non-compliance without requiring the business to cease operation.

How to challenge decisions

An application for a review or an appeal maybe sought against a decision made by the LHLCU, including a decision to refuse a licence, attach a condition to a licence, or cancel or suspend a licence.

Find out more about how to apply for a review or appeal.

Find out more

Please contact the LHLCU for more information.

Last updated 01 July 2020