The Labour Hire Authority (LHA) will be following up information identified during recent visits to farms in Shepparton indicating non-compliance with providers’ legal obligations relating to minimum accommodation standards, migration laws and worker entitlements.
During visits to seven farms last month, the LHA interviewed 34 farm workers and conducted three inspections of worker accommodation to verify compliance with the minimum accommodation standards.
As a result of information received in the field, the LHA will be following up identified non-compliance with labour hire licence holders’ legal obligations under the minimum accommodation standards and Migration Act 1958. Alleged non-payment of tax and superannuation entitlements will also be investigated.
While speaking with farmers and providers, inspectors provided education about new legal obligations, including:
- the introduction of a minimum hourly wage guarantee in the Horticulture Award 2020 and a requirement to record hours worked by pieceworkers, and
- changes to the Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 which give labour hire workers the same rights and protections at their host employer’s workplace as employees of the host.
These inspections followed an operation in the Murray region in December 2021 and a joint operation with WorkSafe and the Department of Justice and Regulation of farms the Yarra Valley in February 2022.
“The LHA is committed to helping prevent labour hire worker exploitation in the horticulture industry,” says Labour Hire Authority Commissioner, Steve Dargavel.
Mr Dargavel stresses the importance of both providers and hosts understanding and complying with their obligations, including those relating to providing accommodation and transport to labour hire workers.
“Providers and hosts must do their part to ensure the essential workers who feed Australia aren’t exploited or mistreated. They deserve better.”