Labour Hire Update

Three Australian states now have labour hire licensing laws – Queensland, Victoria and South Australia.

For anyone considering working for a business or individual who hires your labour to a farm, you will be better protected, but only if your employer is licensed.

How does this help workers?

There is quite a rigorous process in each state to obtain a licence.  Consequently it is more likely that a licensed employer will be honest with you and pay you the correct wage and other entitlements such as superannuation.  For those working in other states, there are currently no licensing obligations, however that may change in the future with the Federal Government indicating it will bring some form of regulation in nationally.

If you are working in Queensland now, or in Victoria or South Australia later this year, and your boss on-hires your labour to a farm, it will be wise to check your employer is licensed. You are on-hired if you are employed and paid by someone who is not part of the ownership of the farm where you are working.

Queensland

Queensland set the pace by establishing labour hire licensing first, in August 2018, so in this State the rules are in place now.

If you are working in Queensland and your employer hires your labour to a farm, you can check they are licensed at www.labourhire.qld.gov.au.

Victoria

Victoria’s system is similar to Queensland and is now transitioning from the registration phase to the application phase.  By 30 October 2019 any labour hire supplier in Victoria must be licensed, and any business who engages one has an obligation to check they are licensed.

If you are working for a labour hire contractor in Victoria, it is worth checking their licence status after the October date.  If their name does not appear, seriously consider moving to another employer.

You will be able to check their licence details here www.labourhireauthority.vic.gov.au.

South Australia

After a delayed start, South Australia also now has labour hire licensing under way.  The government agency handling the process is the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs.

In this State you will have to wait until 1 November until the licences have been issued, but after that date you will be able to check the status of your employer at www.sa.gov.au/topics/business-and-trade/licensing/labour-hire-licence.

What do I need to know?

Regardless of whether you are employed by a labour hire contractor or directly by the farm (or any other non-farm employer also), you should always obtain the business name and Australian Business Number (ABN) from the boss.  Without those details, authorities can do little to help if there are employment problems.  If your employer does not provide these details you should consider changing to one that does.

Sometimes you will be dealing directly with the farm, but they may have organised your employment through a contractor, possibly without your knowledge.  That is when it is particularly important to find out who your employer actually is because you may think you are working for the farm, but legally you are working for a labour hire contractor.

Every employer is legally required to give you a payslip that details your wages every payday.  The employer’s ABN should be on this information, but labour hire licence details are not required.

You can check online whether the ABN is a legitimate registered business, however it cannot tell you if they are a good employer or not. Be aware that, just like having an ABN, having a labour hire licence does not guarantee the employer is good to work for.  What it does do though is to make it less likely that a dishonest employer will be still operating. It will also assist authorities if you have problems with your legal rights under that employer.

What do I do if I have problems?

If you believe your wages are not correct, or there are other employment issues such as your superannuation not being paid on your behalf, the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) is the government agency that can help you.  Your employer’s business name and ABN will be essential for the FWO to help, and any labour hire licence details will also be important.

Australia has many protections for workers.  If you have been cheated or mistreated in the workplace, make sure you report it.  Without reporting, the authorities cannot know what is happening, and an abusive employer can continue to mistreat other workers like you.

Contact the FWO at www.fwo.gov.au.

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