This policy outlines the operational strategies employed by the Office of Industrial Relations (OIR) to regulate the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (the Act), including audits, investigations and legal proceedings.
The appropriate use of a comprehensive range of strategies encourages greater compliance with labour hire licensing laws and enhances awareness of the rights and obligations of licensees and other people.
The following strategies are used:
The decision to grant, refuse, suspend, cancel or impose, vary or revoke a condition of a licence can be reviewed on application by a person given an information notice about the decision or by an interested person. An application to appeal the outcome of a review may be made to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
We aim to complete formal investigations within three months. Cases requiring complex investigation and/or legal proceedings may take longer, whereas less serious matters may be dealt with more quickly.
Electronic applications will be vetted by OIR and must meet specific criteria specified in the Act. This includes:
Applications will be refused where it is immediately apparent the applicant has failed to meet the requirements or are excluded from applying. OIR may give written notice to the applicant if further information is required to ascertain if the licence should be granted. Alternatively, the matter may be referred to the inspectorate where the application is considered to be high risk and further information is required to verify the information provided by declaration.
An inspector monitors compliance with the Act through regular audits of a selection of applicants and licenced providers to ensure that all requirements of the licence are or have been met. This may include:
Where appropriate, licensees will be given an opportunity to resolve any issues found without the need for formal investigation or litigation action.
Inspectors investigate complaints or potential issues regarding:
Inspectors then determine what action needs to be taken. A formal investigation may involve:
As well as formal investigations, inspectors have the power to enter workplaces and other places including private residences (with consent or under warrant), search premises, interview people, seize items and require production of documents to ensure compliance with the Act.
Inspectors can recommend that legal proceedings are taken against a provider (including unlicensed providers), people entering into arrangements with unlicensed providers, people entering into avoidance arrangements and other people where appropriate.
If a matter remains unresolved following an audit and/or formal investigation process, consideration will be given to taking prosecution action in the Magistrates Court to ensure compliance.
This will only happen if an inspector has obtained sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest and a proper response to do so. Before initiating legal proceedings the matter will be reviewed to ensure it meets the Litigation policy criteria below.
If appropriate, licensees and other people will be given an opportunity to resolve any issues found without the issue going to court.
Other circumstances where prosecution action may be taken include:
Outcomes of successful prosecutions may be published to draw attention to the consequence of labour hire licensing violations.
An outcome may be appealed in a higher court to ensure that legal proceedings are justly and correctly applied, and the penalty or order imposed is appropriate. The primary concern in a decision to appeal is whether the applicable law has been correctly stated and applied by the magistrate.
If it appears that a magistrate has erred or the penalty imposed appears to be inadequate, OIR may consider an appeal against the decision. This action will only be taken when:
Prosecution is a discretionary action which means not every breach of the laws is automatically prosecuted. The dominant factor in the decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is the public interest.
By commencing a prosecution, OIR aims to change the behaviour of the wrongdoer and deter future wrongdoers. Prosecution in appropriate circumstances sends a message to the community that failures of legislative responsibilities will be enforced through the courts. The decision to prosecute is made on the basis of the applicable law at the time and public interest considerations.
General public interest is the paramount concern in the decision to prosecute. The question of whether or not the public interest requires that a matter be prosecuted is resolved by determining:
A prima facie case is necessary but not enough. A prosecution should not proceed if there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction.
This consideration requires an exercise of judgment which will depend in part upon an evaluation of the quality and persuasive strength of the evidence as it is likely to be at trial.
In considering the public interest, the main criteria for consideration will include:
The level of seriousness or triviality of the alleged offence, or whether or not it is of a technical nature only. Generally and by way of example, OIR does not regard the following as trivial:
Where an alleged offence is considered to be of a less serious nature, OIR will consider appropriate enforcement mechanisms and alternatives to prosecution which may include recommendation to impose or vary conditions of licence or issue warning letters.
The prevalence of the alleged offence and the need for deterrence, either personal or in general. The existence of any mitigating or aggravating circumstances.
Generally and by way of example, mitigating circumstances might include:
Conversely, aggravating circumstances might include those where the person has refused, impeded or delayed attempts at voluntary compliance, and any other relevant circumstances.
The attitude to the commencement of proceedings which is held by the person who was injured or otherwise affected by the alleged offence.
The degree to which the alleged aggrieved party has the available resourcing to commence legal proceedings on their own behalf.
Whether or not the alleged offence is of minimal public concern.
The prevalence of the alleged offence and the need for either specific or general deterrence.
The applicability of and weight to be given to these and other factors will vary and depend on the particular circumstances of each case.
A decision to take compliance or enforcement action must be based upon the evidence, the law and these guidelines. It must never be influenced by:
After consideration of all the relevant criteria (i.e. sufficient evidence and public interest), an investigation may result in:
The resources available to OIR to institute legal proceedings are finite. They will therefore not be expended in pursuing inappropriate cases.