States introducing important labour hire regulations

While directed at traditional models – and considering definitions of ‘host’, ‘worker’ and ‘labour hire’ – the scheme has a far broader application to the business supply chain, procurement practise and contracting arrangements.

The prohibitions against supplying labour services without a licence and acquiring labour hire services from unlicensed providers are already in effect in Queensland, and in 2019 will take effect from 30 October in Victoria and 1 November in South Australia.

“Businesses operating across these jurisdictions need to understand how the interpretation and application of these laws differ between states and where business undertakings fall within the scope of the new laws,” says Peter Norman Personnel Recruitment Manager Kate Cuic.

She says any business in the pipeline industry defined to be conducting a labour hire service will require a license. Considering the definition of ‘labour hire’ varies in each act, Ms Cuic says it is important for all businesses engaging workers these states to be aware of the requirements.

“For example, Queensland’s definition is much broader than for SA and Victoria and captures non-traditional labour hire providers, such as where services involve employee on-hire/secondments, consulting, contractors, subcontractors and even individual contractors, through to certain recruitment and placement services, and contractor management and payroll services,” she says.

Currently, any companies requiring one of these licences must have made an application by the required deadlines via each state’s dedicated online portal. Once granted, the licences are valid for one year in Queensland, up to three years in Victoria and until surrendered or cancelled in SA. During this time periodic reporting requirements must be satisfied to maintain the licence and qualify for annual renewal.

The penalties for failing to have a valid licence varies between states. Penalties range from approximately $135,000 for individuals plus three years imprisonment, to more than $500,000 for corporations.

Since being introduced in Queensland, the state government has already successfully convicted a rogue operator.

Ms Cuic says while she doesn’t expect a uniform national regime will be established any time soon, she anticipates convictions in one state will certainly impact on an operator’s license in another state.

“The overall impact of such broad-based schemes on the pipeline industry is yet to be seen and other states may follow suit like the Australian Capital Territory Government, which is likely to introduce legislation soon, having undertaken their own inquiry over the last two years and included consultation with the Recruitment, Consulting and Staffing Association of Australia and New Zealand (RCSA), the peak body for the recruitment and staffing industry,” she says.

Despite the new legislation, Ms Cuic says at best, nothing will change except for increased costs of doing business; at worst, both provider and user businesses otherwise compliantly operating across several states could get caught in the nuances of each state’s legislation.

“As a member of both APGA and RCSA operating on the front line of labour hire, Peter Norman Personnel would prefer to see one national, harmonised scheme for borderless businesses operating in the pipeline industry,” she says.

“We consider labour hire to be a valuable, responsible and commercially necessary engagement model for the pipeline sector and welcome measures which will promote compliant and ethical practice throughout the labour service supply chain.”

Peter Norman Personnel is currently licenced in Queensland and is in the process of gaining licences in SA and Victoria.

For more information contact visit the Peter Norman Personnel website.

This article was featured in the October 2019 edition of The Australian Pipeliner. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile device, click here.

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