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Labour Hire Licensing in Australia: where are we now?

Labour hire licensing is slowly being introduced across Australia, to ensure the safe and legal engagement of workers. The latest state to implement the Licensing Act was Victoria in October 2019, with South Australia enacting major changes to their Act in July 2020.
The world has experienced a dramatic shift since then and the labour landscape in Australia is continuously evolving. While some industries have seen a drastic decline in business and workers, other industries find themselves inundated with demand and an increased supply of workers looking for work.
In our last labour hire update, only one state had an active licensing program with others in transition periods.
So, what is the status of each state with its labour hire license legislation now?

ACT – introduced 27 May 2020

The ACT Government passed the Labour Hire Licensing Bill 2020 on 27 May 2020. The scheme will include a six-month transition period starting on 1 January 2021, following the lead of states that have already completed this process. The transition period will allow ample time for labour hire providers and hosts to apply for and obtain a license before the Act is enacted.
Read more on the ACT Government website.

Victoria – active since 29 April 2019

The scheme commenced on 29 April 2019, with an initial six-month transition period that ended on 29 October 2019. In April 2020, the authority announced that there would be no enforcement taken against providers or hosts that applied before 30 June 2020 and there is no evidence of non-compliance.
A condition of holding a Victorian Labour Hire License is that holders are to complete a report annually. The reporting information is to be provided to the authority within 28 days of the start of the reporting period, which is 12 months from when the license was first issued.
Read our checklist for Victorian labour hire users and providers.

Queensland – active since 16 June 2018

Queensland was the first state to implement the Licensing Act in April 2018, with only a 60-day transitional period. The labour hire authority granted over 3000 licenses in its first year of the scheme. In the two years since the cut-off date of 15 June 2018 was implemented, the Queensland Government has issued at least three fines upward of $60,000 for a failure to comply.
Read our checklist for Queensland labour hire users and providers.

South Australia – active with amendments since 25 June 2020

South Australia originally passed the Labour Hire Licensing Act in 2017 and has since been through a number of changes. The scheme was enacted on 31 August 2019. A change in Government threatened to abolish the Act but there was enough support for the recently introduced scheme to continue.
The governing body, Consumer and Business Services (CBS), recommenced accepting applications and all labour hire providers needed to lodge their applications by 31 August 2019 to operate legally.
However, amendments to South Australia’s labour hire laws commenced on 20th July 2020. The Act now only applies to a limited number of industries where exploitation of workers is more prominent.
A license is required for labour hire providers who provide workers doing the following types of work:

  • horticulture processing
  • meat processing
  • seafood processing
  • cleaning
  • trolley collection.

CBS is contacting all license holders and applicants about the changes, and in some cases offering partial refunds.
For more information, visit the CBS website.

WA – watch this space

Western Australia expressed in-principle support to introducing a labour hire licensing scheme in December 2019, after a major inquiry into wage theft. The state is also consulting with the Commonwealth about its commitment to a national labour hire registration scheme for the horticulture, meat processing, cleaning and security industries. Details of the State-wide scheme have not yet been provided.
At the time of writing, no schemes have been announced or introduced in New South Wales, Northern Territory and Tasmania.
This information is correct as at 30 October 2020. 

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