Ensuring providers comply with their obligations is important, not only to protect workers from exploitation, but to ensure a fair and level playing field for all labour hire providers.
In October, the Labour Hire Authority (LHA) has taken action to cancel a number of licences where we’ve identified providers demonstrating significant non-compliance.
Avoiding obligations – an investigation in horticulture
In one case in the horticulture industry, LHA received multiple complaints from workers that a provider gave cash-in-hand payments to workers. This business practice commonly results in providers underpaying workers and not withholding and paying tax or superannuation payments on workers’ behalf.
Through an investigation and follow-up with the provider, LHA found:
- For almost 60 workers paid in cash, the provider did not make superannuation contributions nor withhold and pay tax on their behalf.
- The provider did not attempt to remedy the non-compliance by making payments to or on behalf of the affected workers.
- The provider paid some workers legitimately, showing it had knowledge of its legal obligations and had likely taken steps to pay other workers ‘cash-in-hand’ to avoid those obligations and lower its operating costs.
On this basis, LHA could not be satisfied that the provider was compliant with their legal obligations, and decided to cancel their labour hire licence.
The same provider also sourced workers from four unlicensed individuals and on-supplied them to a host. LHA investigations are ongoing into whether the licence holder and individuals have engaged in prohibited conduct under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018, as well as referrals being made to relevant regulators.
Breaching conditions – an investigation in meat processing
In a separate matter, LHA cancelled a labour hire licence after an investigation revealed that a provider had engaged and supplied workers to a meat processing facility in breach of work-related conditions which applied to their visas under the Pacific Labour Scheme (as it then was).
The provider had also engaged the workers as independent contractors in circumstances where the workers should likely have been engaged as employees and had not made superannuation contributions on their behalf.
The provider admitted to falsifying records provided to another regulator and had previously failed to respond to a notice requiring information from Queensland labour hire licensing inspectors.
“A number of providers have lost their licence because they were not compliant with their legal obligations,” says Labour Hire Licencing Commissioner Steve Dargavel.
“Providers need to take steps to meet their legal obligations to ensure that workers are not exploited and other labour hire providers are not put at a competitive disadvantage.”
“We will take action to cancel licences for providers who do not comply, especially where they do not demonstrate a willingness to comply.”
Visit the LHA website to find out more about provider obligations.