Protection for workers

By Country News

Victorian labour hire workers now have stronger safeguards as the state’s first Labour Hire Licensing Scheme came into affect on April 29.

Labour hire providers have six months to obtain a licence or else face significant penalties.

The Victorian Government is implementing the scheme to bring a new level of integrity and scrutiny to the labour hire industry and keep workers safe and free from exploitation.

‘‘The focus of the Labour Hire Authority is to ensure that workplace law is not breached in respect of labour hire workers,’’ Labour Hire Authority Commissioner Steve Dargavel said.

‘‘The authority is here to help, and we encourage anyone in the industry to contact us for information or guidance through the licensing process.’’

The independent inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work uncovered widespread abuse, underpayment and exploitation in the sector, which includes commercial cleaners, fruit pickers and meat workers.

To obtain a licence, contractors will be required to pass a ‘‘fit and proper person test’’ and show compliance with workplace laws, labour hire laws and minimum accommodation standards. They will also need to report annually on their activities.

Host employers that use unlicensed providers face maximum fines of more than $500000.