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Labour Hire Licences in Australia

Several Australian States require labour hire licences, including Queensland, Victoria and South Australia. Australia’s labour hire industry is important for businesses to have the flexibility and workers they need to succeed.

Certain States and Territories have implemented stringent regulations, including the requirement for a labour hire licence. The licensing schemes seek to ensure the protection of workers and the integrity of the labour market.

This article outlines when and where you might need a labour hire licence in Australia. Also explained will be how to obtain a licence and the rules you must follow to avoid penalties.

Consulting a lawyer experienced in labour hire arrangements can help navigate these complex licencing regulations and ensure full compliance. Several other legal considerations exist for labour hire agreements as well.

Key Takeaways

  • If you provide workers to another business, you may need a licence as a labour hire provider.
  • Labour hire licensing laws vary across Australia. Queensland, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia have their own licensing schemes.
  • Certain labour hire arrangements are exempt from needing a licence.
  • Obtaining a labour hire licence in Australia requires certain steps. These generally include preparing documentation, submitting applications, paying fees, and awaiting assessment.
  • Compliance is essential to avoid significant penalties and ensure ethical business practices.

Understanding Labour Hire Licensing

Labour hire licensing is a regulatory framework designed to protect workers from exploitation and ensure that labour hire providers operate legally and ethically.

The requirements for a labour hire licence varies across different States and Territories in Australia. Queensland, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia have their own licensing schemes. While other States and Territories may not have official licensing regimes, other laws can apply.

Not all labour hire arrangements require a licence, as some exceptions apply. We have outlined these further below.

Introduction to Australian Entertainment Law

Licensing Requirements in Queensland

Labour hire providers in Queensland (QLD) are regulated by the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (QLD) (QLD Act) and the Labour Hire Licensing Regulation 2018 (QLD).

The QLD scheme applies to your business if you:

  • supply workers to another business (a host employer) and the workers work under the host employer’s control; or

 

  • provide workers to work in and as part of a host’s business.

 

The QLD scheme strictly prohibits parties from supplying labour hire services without a licence. It also further penalises parties who engage labour hire from an unlicenced provider. 

The QLD Act adopts a broad definition of ‘worker’ (compared to other jurisdictions). The definition includes anyone that one party supplies to engage in work for another party. 

Obtaining a Labour Hire Licence in Queensland

To obtain a labour hire licence in Queensland, businesses must register and submit an application online.

The information required for the application includes details of:

  • the financial means of the company and the solvency of entities associated with the business;

 

  • how they are ‘fit and proper’;

 

  • work health and safety violations and enforceable undertakings, and workers’ compensation obligations;

 

  • other licences, certificates or authorities to carry on a business;

 

  • migration matters;

 

  • convictions for serious criminal offences and other violations of certain laws;

 

  • discrimination and sexual harassment issues; and

 

  • the regions where they will provide labour-hire services and the relevant industries.

 

The cost of a licence depends on the amount of money a business paid its employees in the previous year. For new licensors, the amount the business plans to pay its employees in the future. For example, for companies paying less than $1.5 million in wages, the cost is roughly $1,100. Whereas a company paying more than $5 million in wages will have a fee of nearly $6,000.

QLD issues licences for up to 12 months and licence holders can renew them annually. Renewal fees also apply.

Licensing Requirements in South Australia

The labour hire industry in South Australia (SA) is regulated by the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (SA) (SA Act) and the Labour Hire Licensing Regulations 2018 (SA).

The SA scheme applies to your business if:

  • your business provides workers to work as part of another person’s business;

 

  • you have an arrangement with your workers to supply them to another person to do work; or

 

  • your business pays the workers you provide to the other person (or you provide other types of benefits or payments).

 

Similar to QLD, SA only authorises licensed providers to offer labour hire services. The definitions of a ‘provider’ and a ‘worker’ under the SA scheme are nearly identical to QLD’s legislation.

However, unlike QLD, the law in SA does not exclude any person or group of persons from the definition of a “worker”. Essentially, SA laws may apply to employees who QLD laws do not cover.

contract drafting

Obtaining a Labour Hire Licence in South Australia

To obtain a labour hire licence in SA, businesses must register and submit an application online.

The information required for the application includes details of:

  • financial solvency;

 

  • the required knowledge and experience;

 

  • two fit and proper people who are responsible for the day-to-day management of your business; and 

 

  • that these responsible people hold a current National Police Certificate. 

 

The application cost depends on the type of person or entity applying for the licence and range between $600 to $700.

Labour hire licences are valid for 12 months in SA. You must renew them annually, for an additional fee. 

Licensing Requirements in Victoria

The labour hire industry in Victoria (VIC) is regulated by the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018 (VIC) (VIC Act) and the Labour Hire Licensing Regulations 2018 (VIC).

The VIC scheme applies to your business if you:

  • supply workers and pay them to perform work in and as part of a host’s business;

 

  • recruit workers for a host and provide lodging; or

 

  • recruit workers as independent contractors for a host and manage the contract performance.

 

The Victorian definition of labour hire covers specific recruitment or placement services and contractor management services.

Obtaining a Labour Hire Licence in Victoria

To obtain a labour hire licence in VIC, businesses must register and submit an application online.

The information required for the application includes details of:

  • the number of workers you have supplied in the last 12 months (or projected numbers for the next 12 months);

 

  • how many of those workers were employees, independent contractors, or worked as both;

 

  • if your workers hold any temporary work visas;

 

  • any industrial instruments, such as awards, enterprise bargaining agreements or piecework agreements;

 

  • relevant person details, including information to conduct criminal history checks;

 

  • fit and proper person assessment details; and

 

  • if you are or will be providing housing or transport for workers in connection with the labour hire service.

 

The cost of the application varies depending on the applicant’s type and annual turnover.

Labour hire licences in Victoria can last for a period of up to 3 years. Annual and renewal fees apply.

Licensing Requirements in the Australia Capital Territory

The labour hire industry in the Australian Capital Territory is regulated by the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2020 (ACT)(ACT Act) and the Labour Hire Licensing Regulation 2021 (ACT).

The ACT scheme applies to your business if you:

  • employ workers for labour hire services; and

 

  • provide those workers other companies on a fee or contract basis to a host business.

 

In the ACT, the definition of a labour hire provider and worker is similar to the other jurisdictions. 

Obtaining a Labour Hire Licence in the Australian Capital Territory

To obtain a labour hire licence in the ACT, businesses must register and submit an application online.

The information required for the application includes details of:

  • being a ‘fit and proper’ person; 

 

  • financial means and can meet operating costs and expenses, pay employees promptly, and is prepared for additional costs;

 

  • workers insurance; and

 

  • compliance with the workplace, immigration, workplace health and safety and worker’s compensation laws. 

 

The cost of an ACT labour hire licence is currently $3,106. Authorities issue licences for up to 1 year and individuals can renew them annually.

Exemptions

Each region has their own set of exemptions.

For example, you may not need a labour hire licence if you are:

  • providing recruitment and permanent placement services;

 

  • organising volunteer or student placements;

 

  • providing workplace consultants or secondees;

 

  • engaging in a genuine subcontracting arrangement; or

 

  • acting as a go-between or agent.

 

Businesses must follow the laws related to their region to make sure they are compliant.

Compliance Obligations

Businesses can hire workers from licensed labour hire providers without needing their own licence for labour hire workers.

Each region has their own set of requirements for licencing. Some compliance obligations for labour hire providers can include:

  • complying with their licence conditions;

 

  • providing reports to the relevant authority on their labour hire activities (6-12 monthly);

 

  • reporting changes in circumstances to the relevant authority;

 

  • producing a copy of a licence if asked by an inspector, worker or other person;

 

  • not selling, transferring or hiring out a licence to another person;

 

  • ensuring they continue to be a ‘fit and proper person’;

 

  • keeping records of workers hired out under labour hire agreements; and

 

  • complying with legal obligations under other relevant laws.

 

Labour hire providers must also provide their workers with certain information in relation to the labour hire arrangement.

Licencing inspectors can also conduct audits and monitor labour hire providers’ compliance with the schemes.

labour hire licences

Penalties

Operating without a labour hire licence can lead to significant penalties, including hefty fines and potential legal action. These consequences apply for not complying with licence conditions as well.

Penalties range across Australia from $100,000 for individuals, all the way up to $2,500,000 for companies. The authorities may also seek imprisonment.

Importantly, hiring an unlicensed labour provider can also lead to unwanted legal responsibility under contract law. As breaching the relevant legislation in your region may result in a contract being void. 

To avoid penalty, businesses should ensure that they do not:

  • advertise that they provide labour hire services unless they hold a valid licence;

 

  • enter into an arrangement with a labour hire provider without a current licence (unless a valid exemption applies); or

 

  • engage with a labour hire provider in a way that seeks to avoid a scheme (unless a valid exemption applies).

 

Businesses should have rigorous labour hire or contractor engagement policies and procedures in place.

This can help ensure compliance with the schemes. Furthermore, someone should regularly audit these. The consequences for businesses and individuals for failure to do so are significant.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a labour hire licence?

A labour hire licence is a regulatory requirement for businesses supplying workers to third parties. Labour hire providers must have a licence in certain regions. This ensures ethical operation and worker protection in labour hire arrangements.

You can also read more about the legal side of using labour hire services in Australia.

Labour hire providers in Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, and South Australia must obtain a licence. You do not need a licence if an exemption applies.

Companies must ensure that they use a licensed labour hire provider. Fines may apply to businesses that hire people from unlicensed providers.

Not all State and Territories have a labour hire licensing regime. However, other labour hire provider laws apply separately to Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, or South Australia. For example, the Work Health and Safety Act 2020 (WA) regulates labour hire arrangements in Western Australia.

If you provide workers to a business in a licensed region, you must follow the rules of that State or Territory. This may mean obtaining a licence to service that region.

You can also use a labour hire licence from another region to support your application in a new region.

A lawyer specialised in labour hire arrangements can help you navigate your national legal requirements.

Yes, however this depends on your region. Most State or Territory authorities have a ‘register’ of current licences on their websites. Remember that there may be penalties for accepting workers from a labour hire provider without a valid licence.

We recommend checking with the relevant State or Territory authority for more information or speaking to an experienced lawyer.

Businesses have received fines for not using a licensed a labour hire provider in QLD. The QLD authority fined Better Crop Management Pty Ltd $195,000 in 2021. They fined them for using an unlicensed labour hire provider for their crop harvesting. They also fined the unlicensed labour hire provider $50,000. 

You may need to demonstrate that you are a ‘fit and proper’ person when applying for a labour hire licence.

The requirements to prove this differ between licensed regions. For example, in VIC, this means providing evidence that details any:

  • indictable offences against the application (including fraud, dishonesty or drug offences).
  • proven breaches of workplace law, labour hire industry law or minimum housing standards.
  • deeds of agreement or enforceable undertakings in connection with the above.
  • insolvency or external administration under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
  • labour hire licence that authorities cancelled, suspended, or revoked.
  • bar on managing corporations under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth).
  • Director Penalty Notice in respect of super payments.

 

In QLD, this means submitting a formal fit and proper person declaration with the online application.

About the Author

Farrah Motley
Director of Prosper Law. Farrah founded Prosper online law firm in 2021. She wanted to create a better way of doing legal work and a better experience for customers of legal services.

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