New state law clamps down on contractors
LABOUR hire businesses will have to be licensed under a new Queensland law in order to operate past April 2018.
Business owners involved in supplying workers, often known as labour hire intermediaries or contractors, in all industries will require the new certification - whether they supply workers for farm work, hospitality or any other field.
Regulations passed under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 require contractors to meet stringent record-keeping and reporting rules, prove financial capacity to ensure taxes and workers are paid promptly, pass a "fit and proper person test”, and pay a fee to be certified.
Lockyer Valley farmer Lorena Huggins said it was a "fantastic idea”.
"It would take a load off your mind knowing there's somebody governing the labour hire companies and checking they're bringing in legal workers and those workers are being paid correctly,” she said.
"A lot of people in the community think it's us farmers treating the workers badly and not paying them correctly, but a lot of us just get the bill from the contractor... we pay the hourly rate, but we don't know what ends up in (the workers') hands because of privacy (laws).
"Of course, you can't get lazy and farmers still need to do their own checks but I think it's good (labour hire companies) take a little more responsibility.”
The Lockyer Valley Regional Council has been involved with state government officials to address community concerns about the labour hire industry and had made multiple submissions to inquiries delving into bad industry practice.
Councillor Michael Hagan, who holds the community services portfolio, said council was confident the Act would help clean up dishonest practices but said there was still work to be done to avoid dis-advantaging legal operators.
However, a separate council spokesperson cautioned that like other regulations, unscrupulous business owners would always seek to operate outside the law if there was insufficient monitoring and penalties weren't applied.
The Act does not apply to transfers of apprentices, volunteer work and education internships, and considerations are ongoing regarding the status of other workers, including domestic workers and consultants.
The Queensland Treasury is seeking feedback until February 2 to further develop the regulations, and encourage submissions via email; firstname.lastname@example.org or post; Labour Hire Licensing Team, Executive Director Industrial Relations, Office of Industrial Relations GPO Box 69, Brisbane QLD 4001.
Find more information via www.treasury.qld.gov.au and search Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017.