The Victorian Government has introduced to Parliament the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2017 (Bill) in a bid to make things fair for labour hire workers in Victoria.
The Bill comes in response to the Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work (Report) chaired by Professor Anthony Forsyth, which brought to light the extensive abuse and exploitation of workers across Victoria.
The Report found a widespread culture of mistreatment in the labour hire industry in which instances of rogue operators underpaying workers, not ensuring proper safety standards, abusing worker visas and undermining the minimum standards of employment occur frequently.
In an effort to crack down on these rogue operators the Government accepted 33 of the Report’s 35 recommendations and introduced legislation which provides for a dramatic overhaul of the industry.
Under the new scheme:
1. The Public Administration Act 2004 will be amended to establish a Labour Hire Licensing Authority and an Office of Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner who will monitor and investigate compliance within the scheme;
2. Providers of labour hire services will be required to hold a licence, and hosts will be required to only use licensed providers;
3. To obtain a licence, providers will be required to pass “a fit and proper person test” and show compliance with workplace laws, labour hire laws and minimum accommodation standards;
4. Licensed providers will be listed on a publicly accessible register; and
5. “Rogue operators” that do not comply with or attempt to defy the scheme will be liable for substantial civil and criminal penalties.
According to the Victorian Government the new scheme is largely similar to labour hire licensing schemes being developed in Queensland and South Australia where Labour hire providers will be able to apply for a licence and provide their reports online. Users of labour hire and workers will be able search a register of licensed labour hire providers so that they can verify that they are dealing with legitimate licensed businesses.
From 16 April 2018, labour hire providers will have 60 days to lodge an application for a licence. If an application is made within the 60 day period the obligations and penalties of the Act will not apply until the licence has been granted.
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