You may have heard about recent changes to Victorian law regarding labour hire. The Victorian government introduced these measures in an effort to provide protections for lower-salaried workers and those in positions with limited work security. Worker exploitation and grey areas lacking adequate regulation were key targets of the new Act.
The Act made provisions for the introduction of a Labour Hire Licensing Scheme which will simultaneously protect exploited and disadvantaged workers while also providing scope to punish employers who are acting outside the law. Underpayment and exploitation in general will be subject to new penalties.
Contractors operating in Victoria were provided with six months’ notice to ensure their compliance with the new legislation, which included signing up to the Licensing Scheme. This six-month period began on April 29th when the Act entered into force in Victoria.
On October 29, 2019, the deadline for labour hire providers to apply for a license to operate in Victoria passed. Planet Earth is fully compliant with the tenets of the Labour Hire Licensing Scheme and is a current applicant for the license. We will continue to ensure that all employees are treated fairly and equitably under Victorian law and according to the principles which guide our organisation.
At Planet Earth, we believe that humanity and the environment should be at the centre of the choices we make, both as a business and as people. Our impact should be a positive one, and to that end we are constantly vigilant as to the way our actions impact those around us.
How do the new labour hire laws work?
The new laws introduced the Labour Hire Licensing Scheme. The scheme is designed primarily to protect exploited workers, while also enforcing existing laws against employers who aren’t doing the right thing by their workers.
All contractors had a six-month period in which to sign up to the scheme, with penalties in place for those who failed to do so. The scheme requires all providers of labour hire services to hold a license. In order to obtain a license, organisations must prove compliance with all workplace and labour hire laws.
Employers who use labour hire providers that are unlicensed can face fines of up to $500,000. As part of our compliance with this new legislation, Planet Earth Cleaning, as a labour hire provider, has ensured that we are fully compliant with new legislation.
Why were the new labour hire laws introduced?
The new labour hire laws were introduced following the Victorian Inquiry into the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work, commissioned by Natalie Hutchins, Minister for Industrial Relations.
The Inquiry had several areas of focus, revolving around how labour hire companies practice, insecure work, contracting loopholes and minimum employment standards. At Planet Earth, we were aware of the Inquiry and comfortable as it unfolded that our organisation’s practices would prove compliant with any recommendations that came out.
During the Inquiry, almost 700 submissions were tendered from different organisations and individuals. Over 200 witnesses presented to the Inquiry across more than 100 sessions in 17 days of hearings.
Voices from a broad array of stakeholders were heard. Labour unions, industry groups, community councils, labour hire agencies, media organisations and individuals representing ethnic groups and migrants all put forward different perspectives for the consideration of the Inquiry.
What happens to those who breach the labour hire laws?
Labour hire providers who did not apply for a license under the new scheme during the allocated transition period (six months) are currently unable to provide labour hire services. If they continue to do so, they are liable to be charged over $120,000 (for an individual) or $500,000 (for a corporation).
Organisations that use labour provided by an unregistered labour hire provider also face the same punishments. So, if you’re currently contracting your cleaning to a separate company, you should ensure that they are compliant with the new scheme.
So, what does this all mean?
Moving forward, Planet Earth cleaning will continue to remain compliant with the new Labour Hire Licensing Act and all attendant regulations. In doing so, we ensure that any individuals or organisations using our services are also compliant with the legislation, as they are required to use only licensed providers.
We are required to provide annual reports on our labour hire activities and will do so when these reports are required. The new scheme will help deliver a level playing field for all labour hire providers, ensuring that those who are doing the right thing by their workers are not beaten out of the marketplace by those who are acting unethically or illegally.
The new legislation doesn’t present any particularly major challenges to the way we at Planet Earth Cleaning operate. The nature of the laws align with our own ethical approach to business, and compliance with the Scheme is not excessively burdensome. We will continue to ensure that we operate ethically with care for all of our workers and clients.
Additionally, we will ensure that concern and respect for the environment remains our top priority at all levels of business operations. If you would like to learn more about Planet Earth Cleaning, our values or the way we operate, please get in touch. We’re always happy to chat.