Compliance focus: Victoria’s horticulture industry

24 February 2022
Compliance focus: Victoria’s horticulture industry

The Commonwealth Senate Select Committee on Job Security has inquired into the impact of insecure or precarious employment, with evidence given to the Committee by several workers from the horticulture sector. Media stories since have further highlighted workers’ concerns and the challenges faced with cleaning up the labour hire industry servicing this sector.

The Labour Hire Authority (LHA) uses a range of sources to receive intelligence about worker mistreatment and exploitation. In addition to information from government inquiries and direct feedback through our Report a Problem portal, we regularly monitor media stories and work with stakeholders and other regulatory agencies to receive vital information. This intelligence plays an important part in helping us identify where the LHA’s compliance efforts are best directed to protect vulnerable workers.

Indeed, Victoria’s horticulture industry has been a focus for the LHA since shortly after our establishment less than three years ago. Our work continues to uncover and help prevent issues faced by the labour hire workers servicing this industry.

One of the common issues cited by workers at the senate hearing was being required to pay exorbitant prices for squalid living conditions. Licensed labour hire providers who provide accommodation are reminded of their obligation to meet minimum accommodation standards, and to ensure that any deductions for accommodation comply with workplace laws.

The LHA is holding labour hire providers accountable for failing to comply with these and other standards required of them. Our Compliance and Enforcement team regularly conducts site visits to horticulture businesses in partnership with other primary regulators to investigate reports of worker mistreatment and exploitation.

Where we find that these legal obligations have not been complied with, we can take compliance action including cancellation of licences in serious cases. Businesses who subsequently provide labour hire services without a licence can be liable for significant penalties.

By preventing the exploitation of labour hire workers, we will help safeguard the reputation of the horticulture sector and regional communities as safe and fair places to work.

We will be out and about over the coming months, and we are always looking for information that helps us identify and deal with those operators who should be removed the industry.

If you have any information or concerns, please Report a Problem.