A Victorian company and its director have been fined for engaging seven unlicensed labour hire providers to source workers for orchards in the Cobram area.
The Supreme Court of Victoria issued penalties of $211,481.60 against Honey Bunny Global Pty Ltd, and $52,870.40 against director Surawadee Tanchote, after legal action by the Labour Hire Authority (LHA).
Under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018 (Vic), the same maximum penalties apply for engaging an unlicensed labour hire provider as apply for providing unlicensed labour hire services.
Labour hire providers who act as intermediaries and on-supply workers from other labour hire businesses must ensure they only enter these arrangements with other licensed providers, as well as ensuring they have a licence to provide labour hire services themselves.
“It’s important for labour hire hosts and providers to ensure every business in a labour supply chain holds a labour hire licence,” said Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner, Steve Dargavel.
“Under law, significant penalties can apply whether your business provides unlicensed services or engages another business to provide unlicensed services,” he said.
Honey Bunny Global and its director had cooperated with LHA investigations; in determining the penalties, the Court noted the contrition and remorse expressed by director Tanchote.
The judgement, handed down in late December 2023, came just days after a separate labour hire company in Victoria’s horticulture industry was issued the highest total penalty in Australian history for breaches of labour hire law, for knowingly and repeatedly operating without a licence.
In that case, A L Star Express Pty Ltd was penalised $617,916 for supplying workers to pick fruit and vegetables and perform other horticulture tasks in Rosebud, Koo Wee Rup, Torquay and Devon Meadows.
Horticulture work such as fruit and vegetable picking often involves the use of labour hire workers, including workers on visa programs – groups that have historically been subject to exploitation.
Providers and hosts should use LHA’s tools to ensure they only use licensed providers: