Labour hire providers who supply accommodation to workers should be aware of new obligations under the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020.
In 2021-22, over 200 providers accommodated workers to carry out labour hire services. These accommodation arrangements may be in place in circumstances such as:
- a horticulture provider accommodating workers in a town or city close to farms
- a provider accommodating seasonal tourism workers in a tourist town during peak season.
Providers are already required to tell the Labour Hire Authority (LHA) if they intend to procure or provide accommodation in connection with a labour hire service.
In addition, the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020 were recently updated to bring labour hire accommodation within the scope of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
For Victorian labour hire providers, this means that from 15 February 2023, all labour hire accommodation:
- must be registered by the proprietor with the local council
- must meet cleanliness, hygiene, maintenance and other standards under the Public Health and Wellbeing (Prescribed Accommodation) Regulations 2020.
While providers may not always be the operators of accommodation they provide or procure for their workers, they are responsible for ensuring they do not place workers in premises that do not comply with applicable minimum standards. These include these new obligations, and the requirements outlined in section 3 of the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018.
More information about the changes to labour hire accommodation is available on the Department of Health website.
Accommodation compliance operations underway
LHA carried out 13 inspections of labour hire accommodation in regional Victoria in 2022.
Inspectors identified multiple issues at accommodation sites, including overcrowding, unauthorised building works, hygiene issues, and OHS violations.
One site linked to a Victorian labour hire provider had a significant fire safety risk, with a modified camp-stove in the kitchen powered by two stacked gas bottles adjacent to an open flame. Inspectors noted a strong smell of gas and reported the matter to the local council.
After an LHA investigation found another labour hire provider had housed workers in overcrowded accommodation, the provider received licence conditions and voluntarily refunded workers a portion of what they paid for the accommodation.
All providers who accommodate workers are encouraged to understand and comply with their legal obligations – read more about these obligations on the LHA website.