08 August 2018
The Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Qld) (Act) commenced on 16 April 2018 and introduces a mandatory licensing regime for providers of labour hire services in Queensland. Importantly, the Act is likely to impact entities in a broad range of sectors not commonly associated with labour hire, including government.
The Act was introduced in response to evidence of exploitation of workers in the labour hire industry documented in a Report of the Queensland Finance and Administration Committee.
The stated purposes of the Act are to:
Given the broad definition of ‘labour hire services’ (discussed below), the reach of the Act is likely to be far wider than the labour hire industry.
Among those potentially affected by the Act are government bodies and government-affiliated entities who would not ordinarily consider themselves to be providers or users of labour hire services.
Notably, the Act provides that while the State cannot be prosecuted for an offence under the Act,2 it nonetheless remains bound by it.3 This effectively means the State must comply with the Act like any other private entity.
One particular area where government entities may fall foul of the Act is in their dealings with third parties. Seemingly innocuous arrangements which involve the supply of personnel (for instance, the supply of locum doctors to a State Health Service) may risk contravening the Act where the suppliers of such personnel are not licensed labour hire providers (see below).
The Act prescribes a number of offences which apply to both providers and users of ‘labour hire services’. The main offences under the Act are as follows:
These offences are punishable by substantial penalties of up to $391,650 in certain cases.
At the heart of the Act is the concept of ‘labour hire services’.
A person is a provider of labour hire services if, in the course of carrying on a business, they supply, to another person, a worker to do work.
This definition has a number of important components. In particular:
The drafting of this definition is significant because it focuses on what conduct is being undertaken, rather than who is undertaking it. The effect of this is to require entities to assess, on a case by case basis, whether compliance with the Act is met.
The Act, together with the Labour Hire Licensing Regulation 2018 (Qld), contain provisions which operate as exemptions to the requirement to hold a licence.
For instance, a person does not provide labour hire services merely because they are:
In addition, the following people are not considered ‘workers’ for the purposes of the definition of labour hire services:
As governments strive to broaden their commercial presence, and traditional public functions are increasingly outsourced to the private sector, government bodies should be aware of the potential impact of the Act (and other regulatory regimes) on their dealings.
 Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Qld) s 3.
 Ibid, s 10(1).
 Ibid, s 10(2).
 Ibid, s 11(1).
 Ibid, s 12.
 Ibid, s 7(1).
 See, for example, Hope v Bathurst City Council (1980) 144 CLR 1 at 8-9.
 Labour Hire Licensing Act 2017 (Qld) s 8(1).
 Ibid, s 7(3).
 Labour Hire Licensing Regulation 2018 (Qld) reg 4.
This publication is introductory in nature. Its content is current at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. You should always obtain legal advice based on your specific circumstances before taking any action relating to matters covered by this publication. Some information may have been obtained from external sources, and we cannot guarantee the accuracy or currency of any such information.