Workers advised to choose licensed labour hire agents
Backpackers and others planning to do seasonal farm work in Queensland and Victoria with a labour hire agent can protect themselves by checking that the agency they choose to work with is licensed.
A labour hire agency provides temporary staff to employers and pays them for the work they conduct for the employer. Many fruit growers use labour hire agencies to find people to work on their farms during peak harvest periods.
To help ensure labour hire agencies pay and treat workers fairly, Queensland introduced labour hire licensing in July 2018 and Victoria will introduce it in April 2019.
“Anyone planning to get work through a labour hire provider in Queensland should check that they are licensed under Queensland’s labour hire licensing scheme,” said MADEC’s Manager of the Harvest Trail, Mr Gavin Krake.
“Workers who actively choose to work with a licensed agency know that the licence holder has had to meet certain standard including demonstrating that they are financially viable and comply with relevant laws.”
Since Queensland’s labour hire licensing scheme started in April one licence has been suspended, one cancelled and 3000 granted. More than 300 audits of licence holders or applicants have been carried out.
MADEC is a licensed labour hire provider in Queensland and manages the national Harvest Trail website and call centre – a government funded program that operates at no charge to growers.
In Victoria, labour hire licensing will commence on 29 April 2019 and businesses who provide labour hire services in Victoria will have six months from that date to apply for a licence or risk a penalty under the scheme.
“Similar to the scheme in place in Queensland, labour hire operators in Victoria will be required to pass a fit and proper person test, show compliance with workplace laws, labour hire laws and minimum accommodation standards, as well as report annually on their activities,” said Mr Krake.
The Harvest Trail website and call centre (1800 062 332) is available for workers to contact who are looking for seasonal farm jobs to help them connect directly with grower employers.
Gavin Krake, Manager – National Harvest Labour Information Service, MADEC