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Questions and answers

What is the purpose of the labour hire licensing scheme?

The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (the Act) responds to evidence of serious exploitation of vulnerable labour hire workers and to inappropriate labour hire business practices, and establishes a mandatory licensing scheme for all labour hire providers operating in Queensland.

The purpose of the scheme is to protect labour hire workers from exploitation and promote the integrity of the labour hire industry in Queensland.

Why is a labour hire licensing scheme being established in Queensland?

The labour hire licensing scheme will improve the integrity of the labour hire industry in Queensland and protect vulnerable labour hire workers from exploitation. The scheme responds to evidence of serious exploitation and mistreatment of labour hire workers and inappropriate business practices uncovered during a number of government and parliamentary inquiries and media investigations. The evidence included:

  • underpayment, or non-payment of workers' wages, taxes and superannuation
  • not providing workers' compensation cover
  • not providing appropriate safety equipment or training
  • housing workers in substandard accommodation
  • forcing workers to use particular travel services at inflated prices
  • serious mistreatment of workers, including sexual harassment
  • withholding workers' passports
  • avoiding responsibilities by creating a new company to continue the business of a company that has been deliberately closed to avoid paying its debts, including employee entitlements and taxation obligations (known as phoenixing)
  • undercutting legitimate labour hire businesses as a consequence of not meeting legal obligations to workers and others.

Who does the scheme cover?

The scheme applies to labour hire providers operating in Queensland and those who use labour hire services.

Labour hire providers must be licensed to operate in Queensland and users of labour hire services must only use licensed providers.

Labour hire providers are broadly defined as a person (individual or business) that in the course of carrying on a business, supplies to another person a worker to do work. The workers are paid by the supplier for the work they do for the labour hire user.

However, the scheme does not cover:

  • genuine secondments
  • workplace consulting
  • a high income worker – defined with reference to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) as an employee earning over the Fair Work Act 2009 high income threshold (currently $145,400 per annum from 1 July 2017 and subject to annual increases) and not covered by an industrial instrument (award or agreement)
  • a worker who is also the director of a business who is the only worker 'supplied' by their own business
  • an 'in-house employee' who is temporarily supplied to another person, where an 'in-house' employee is defined as an individual who:
    • is engaged as an employee by the provider on a regular and systematic basis
    • has a reasonable expectation the employment with the provider will continue
    • primarily performs work for the provider other than as a worker supplied to another person to do work for the other person.
  • an employee working for an employing entity used wholly within a single recognisable business
  • volunteer workers
  • students placed in work experience positions.

In addition, the following arrangements are not labour hire services merely because they are:

  • a private employment agent under the Private Employment Agents Act 2005 (Qld)
  • a contractor who enters into a contract to carry out construction work within the meaning of the Building and Construction Industry Payments Act 2004 (Qld) engaging subcontractors to carry out the work.

When does the scheme commence?

The Queensland Labour Hire Licensing scheme commences on 16 April 2018. Existing labour hire providers have until 15 June 2018 to apply for a licence, and providers who apply before 15 June 2018 can continue to operate after 15 June while their licence application is being assessed. After 16 April 2018 any new labour hire provider must hold a licence before they begin operations.

How can I get a licence?

You can apply for a labour hire provider licence online through this website.

When you apply you will need to:

  • identify yourself, your address and your ABN (if applicable)
  • identify at least on person (who can be you) as a nominated officer who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the labour hire business
  • show that the people relevant to the application are fit and proper to provide labour hire services
  • show that you can comply with State and Commonwealth laws relevant to running a labour hire business and employing workers
  • show that the labour hire business is financially viable
  • pay an application fee.

Read more about the licensing criteria and an application guide.

After I apply for a licence how long will it take for my licence to be granted?

In most cases the application will be processed within 28 business days .

When can I commence operating as a labour hire provider after I have applied for a licence?

Labour hire providers can apply for a licence from 16 April 2018.

Existing labour hire providers have until 15 June 2018 to apply for a licence. Providers who apply before 15 June 2018 can continue to operate after 15 June while their licence application is being assessed.

Any new or existing labour hire provider who does not make an application for a licence before 15 June 2018 must not provide labour hire services after 15 June 2018 until a licence has been granted.

When will my licence need to be renewed?

The licence must be renewed annually. An application for renewal must be made before the licence expires. A reminder notice will be sent to the licensee prior to the licence expiring.

What do I have to do as a labour hire provider?

All labour hire providers must have a licence to operate in Queensland.

Penalties apply if you provide labour hire services without a licence. Find out more about how to get a licence.

It is a condition of a licence that the licensee complies with all laws relevant to operating the labour hire business and employing workers.

Labour hire providers are also required to report on their activities to the Chief Executive every six months. This report is made online through this website.

The report will include:

  • the number of workers supplied during the period
  • the number of visa workers supplied during the period and the classes of visas held by those workers
  • a description of the employment arrangements entered into between yourself and the workers
  • where your workers worked
  • the type of work your workers did
  • details of any accommodation you provided
  • information about your compliance with relevant laws, and any disciplinary or enforcement action taken
  • details of any health and safety incidents your workers were involved in, or applications for workers’ compensation that your workers made.

What do I have to do if I want to use labour hire workers?

If you have workers supplied to you or your business to do work for you, you need to check these arrangements to see if it is considered to be labour hire under the Act.

If you want to use labour hire services you must only use a licensed labour hire provider. Penalties apply if you use a labour hire provider who isn't licensed.

The register  of licensed labour hire providers enable you to check if your provider is licensed or find a licensed provider. You can also print out the details of the provider's labour hire licence.

 

How the scheme helps to protect workers from exploitation

The scheme:

  • prevents unscrupulous operators from being able to provide labour hire services by not granting them a licence
  • requires operators to comply with other relevant laws, such as the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 (Qld) and the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth)
  • provides strong penalties for people who operate unlicensed, use unlicensed operators, or who make arrangements to avoid their obligations under the Act or Labour Hire Licensing Regulation 2018
  • increases transparency across the industry and provides better information to workers and users of labour hire services.

How compliance with the scheme is enforced

Labour hire licensing inspectors monitor compliance with the Act. Inspectors investigate suspected breaches of the Act and audit labour hire providers. Inspectors can enter and search premises, and require labour hire providers and users to provide documents that are required to be kept under the Act.

Breaches of the Act, including providing labour hire services without a licence and using the services of an unlicensed provider, will be penalised.

Read more about labour hire licensing inspectors and penalties under the Act.

How do I report a problem?

The Office of Industrial Relations works in partnership with other State and Commonwealth agencies to:

  • stop unfair competition in the industry
  • support responsible labour hire companies
  • protect workers from exploitation.

Please report a problem online if you have concerns or information about:

  • labour hire providers operating without a licence
  • a business using an unlicensed labour hire provider
  • a labour hire provider not complying with relevant State and Commonwealth laws.

Last updated 10 July 2018