• During 2018, new and far reaching labour hire licensing regimes will come into effect in a number of Australian states, commencing with South Australia in March.
  • The changes will affect any transport operator or corporate group using labour hire services.
  • Onerous penalties will apply for a breach of the legislation – up to $506,000 for corporations and $140,000 (or three years imprisonment) for individuals, depending on the state.

Since the 1990s, labour hire services have become an important feature of the Australian labour market for the management of labour costs and seasonal economic forces. Their use has become increasingly prevalent throughout a multitude of Australian industries, particularly the construction and transport industries. Cooper Grace Ward Lawyers act for a variety of transport operators and corporate groups who utilise labour hire services in a number of different ways. These include both ‘internal’ labour hire arrangements, where one worker may be employed by one company and work for another company within the same corporate group, and ‘external’ labour hire arrangements, where a worker is employed by a business that contracts to provide labour to other unrelated entities.

In recent years, labour hire arrangements have become the subject of increased government scrutiny; a number of inquiries have considered their role and regulation within the Australian labour market. Those inquiries have culminated in the introduction of legislation regulating labour hire licensing in Queensland, South Australia and Victoria. The scope of the regimes, which have not yet come into force, is far reaching, and businesses should carefully consider whether the provisions of the regimes will affect them.

This is particularly so given the onerous penalties that can be imposed for contraventions of the regime.

The table below provides a summary of the key provisions of the regimes in their respective states.