News

Employers face million dollar fines for exploiting workers

Shadow employment and workplace relations spokesperson Brendan O'Connor is expected to announce the proposal in Townsville today.
Shadow employment and workplace relations spokesperson Brendan O'Connor is expected to announce the proposal in Townsville today. Tom Huntley

THE Australian Labor Party is proposing to introduce a labour hire licensing system requiring all employers to get a license to legally operate in the country.

Shadow employment and workplace relations spokesperson Brendan O'Connor is expected to announce the proposal in Townsville today.

Mr O'Connor said an ALP Federal Government would introduce the system to protect the pay and conditions of vulnerable workers.

"From 1 July 2017, an elected Labor government will make it unlawful for labour hire companies to operate without a licence and for other firms to knowingly or recklessly use an unlicensed labour hire company," he said.

"Breaches of these licensing laws will carry a penalty of $216,000 for individuals (1,200 penalty units) and $1.1million (6,000 penalty units) for a body corporate.

"Recent examples of wrongdoing by dodgy labour hire companies that engage in unscrupulous practices and rip off workers is tarnishing employers that do the right thing, and is undercutting wages and conditions.

"In 2015 we saw too many instances of workers' rights trampled in the labour hire industry:

  • Baiada, a supplier of chickens to Coles, Woolworths, Aldi, McDonalds, KFC and Pizza Hut, was found to have used labour hire companies which paid workers well below the minimum wage at as little as $11.50 an hour for shifts of up to 19 hours a day.
  • D'VineRipe Tomato Growers, which supplies to Woolworths, Aldi, IGA and Costco, terminated its contract with CNC Labour Hire after Four Corners revealed workers were being underpaid by up to $5 every hour.
  • Labour hire company Global Express Consultancy supplied workers to three companies across Sydney - Banquet Desserts, Vienna Schubert Estia and South Pack Laboratories underpaid their workers by more than $45,000.

"To help oversee the new licensing rules, Labor will establish a Labour Hire Licensing and Compliance Inspectorate within the Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman which will have the power to monitor compliance with the licensing regime, and will also keep a public register of all licensed labour hire companies."

Licences will only be granted to employers who are judged to be 'fit and proper' persons, taking into account criminal convictions as well as their cooperation with the Fair Work Ombudsman and the new Labour Hire Licensing and Compliance Inspectorate.

Companies that are based overseas and supply labour to Australian firms, either directly or through other companies, will also have to be licensed to do business here.

Licensing fees will be set after genuine consultation with industry, but will be determined on the basis of cost-recovery principles. The licensing fee structure will also take into account a company's history and compliance risk.

This announcement comes on top of Labor's plans to increase penalties for employers who fail to pay their workers properly, to provide greater protection from sham contracting, and to make it harder for dodgy bosses to 'phoenix' their companies to avoid paying workers what they're owed.

Labor's reforms build on our strong record of protecting wages and conditions. Only Labor understands that fairness at work helps to drive a more productive, competitive and prosperous economy.
 

Topics:  brendan o'connor employment federal government 2016 jobs



BREAKING: Alleged Rocky sex offender charged after 60 years

Police have arrested a 78-year-old Rockhampton man. Photo: Trevor Veale / The Coffs Coast Advocate

Alleged offences catch up with Rocky man more than 50 years later

Mayor's call: CQ community needs drug summit

The Mayor of a Central Queensland community wants to see a drug summit to tackle addiction problems.

Govt action needed to address alarming addiction rates

20-year-old $20 crime haunts Rocky man

Rockhampton man Michael Cox.

How did he escape detection for two decades?

Local Partners

REVIEW: Bigger 10.5 inch iPad Pro packs power, fun

AFTER a long day at the office staring at a computer screen, sometimes the last thing you want to do is look at another device.

Elon Musk using anti-phone device at Splendour?

FILE - In this April 30, 2015, file photo, Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk unveils the company's newest products, in Hawthorne, Calif. Tesla Motors is starting to build its electric cars with all the sensors, cameras and other gear needed to drive completely on their own when regulations allow the technology to take over that responsibility. The announcement made late Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016, by Tesla CEO Musk marks the Silicon Valley automaker's next step toward selling cars that can navigate the roads without the help of a human. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu, File)

Did Musk use high-tech to protect his privacy at the festival?

Cartoonist Mitch Cairns wins Archibald Prize

A portrait of Agatha Gothe-Snape has won the 2017 Archibald Prize for cartoonist Mitch Cairns.

Portrait of partner capture renowned art accolade.

Princess Diana: How an Aussie's story made her cry

‘A tear rolled down her cheek’ ... Phil Williams tells his story to Princess Diana.

Phil Williams met Princess Diana on his 18th birthday.

Jonathan LaPaglia takes you inside Australian Survivor s2

Jonathan LaPaglia in a scene from season two of Australian Survivor.

Strategy plays key role as castaways seek to make savvy moves.

Bachelor Recap: Matty’s stunning public rejection

Chic.

Last night we saw humiliation at its best

NZ anchor drops F-bomb live on air

Veteran news anchor Eric Young has been caught uttering an expletive.

Veteran NZ newsreader swears on live television

Oversupply of Rocky homes good news for renters

Noel Livingston, Professionals Livingston and Molloy Real Estate for Property Matters.
Photo Janie Kayes / The Morning Bulletin   ROK050111noel-jk1

Rocky rental vacancies highest of all Qld regional centres

Prominent Rocky petrol station up for sale

Rockhampton Puma petrol station on Queen Elizabeth Drive.

"Rockhampton is a booming commercial hub”

Hearty food for cold nights

Boneless lamb shoulder roast with crushed kipflers.

RECIPES: Two tasty lamb dishes to try this winter