Yellow Hoa Pty Ltd has been convicted and fined $120,000 in the Caboolture Magistrates Court for operating without a licence under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017, the highest penalty imposed to date.
Director ThiHoa Duong was also convicted of aiding, counselling or procuring that offence. She was given a fine of $60,000, with six months’ imprisonment in default of payment.
The court action followed a raid on an Elimbah farm by officers from Queensland's Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit, Australian Border Force and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, who had been tipped off by a member of the public about the exploitation of workers at the property.
Investigations found workers were paid in cash at rates well below the award and weren’t paid superannuation. WorkCover Queensland confirmed that at the time, Yellow Hoa had no workers’ compensation policy in place to safeguard employees. As a result, Yellow Hoa and its director benefitted financially from deliberately failing to comply with a range of laws.
Yellow Hoa did not apply for a labour hire licence in Queensland, but still illegally provided labour to the farm at Elimbah for a six-month period until 18 June 2019.
In sentencing, Magistrate James Blanch noted the behaviour of the defendant not paying workers properly or paying their superannuation or workers’ compensation despite having received funds from the grower was blatantly fraudulent. Additionally, Ms Duong had not cooperated with inspectors and attempted to deregister the company just as investigations started to evade liability.
The significant fines totalling $180,000 are a stark reminder that those businesses and individuals who exploit labour hire workers risk facing the full brunt of the law.
For more information on Queensland’s Labour Hire Licensing Scheme go to www.labourhire.qld.gov.au