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Investigations continue following farm inspection by Labour Hire Authority and Fair Work Ombudsman

2 May 2024
Investigations continue following farm inspection by Labour Hire Authority and Fair Work Ombudsman

Investigations are continuing into possible underpayments and other non-compliance by labour hire providers at a farm in Melbourne’s south-east, following an inspection by the Labour Hire Authority (LHA) and Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

LHA compliance officers and FWO inspectors visited the farm in April, following reports alleging issues with underpayment of workers, record-keeping and licensing, including an allegedly unlicensed provider.

Officers interviewed workers and key staff from the host and providers, and collected financial documents to enable thorough investigation of the claims.

Under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018 (Vic), providers must comply with all relevant workplace laws, and may have their licence cancelled for non-compliance.

The host advised they used LHA’s Follow My Providers tool to stay updated on their provider’s licence status and ensure they were only using licensed providers to supply their workers.

LHA officers were satisfied the host was compliant with their obligations and cooperated fully with their investigation.

Under the Act, penalties for using or providing unlicensed labour hire services can exceed:

  • $600,000 for a corporation
  • $150,000 for an individual.

LHA is continuing its investigations into potential non-compliance, and will continue to work alongside FWO on the outcomes.

Working collaboratively with other regulators

Joint activities with other regulators ensure non-compliance can be investigated and enforced across different workplace laws and obligations that fall under each regulator’s jurisdiction.

LHA works closely with a range of primary regulators like FWO to detect, disrupt and deter non-compliance within the labour hire industry, including:

  • by sharing data and intelligence
  • when assessing licence applications
  • during compliance investigations
  • through joint field activities.

With some labour hire providers operating in multiple states and territories, LHA often works with other licensing authorities where licensing schemes are in place.

In October 2023, several providers were successfully prosecuted following collaboration between LHA and Queensland’s Labour Hire Licensing Compliance Unit (LHLCU).

Also in 2023, a horticulture provider had their licence cancelled in Victoria following the discovery that they were under investigation by the LHLCU in Queensland. By sharing information across the authorities, LHA was able to determine the provider failed to meet their legal obligations.

Compliance and enforcement in horticulture

The horticulture industry continues to be a focus of LHA compliance and enforcement, with recent significant activities including:

As well as these enforcement actions, LHA has recently undertaken a range of investigations of horticulture providers, resulting in refusals of licence applications and cancellations of licences.