This is the submission of the Business Council in response to the invitation to consult with the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (Department) regarding the creation of a national labour hire licensing (LHL) scheme. Specifically, this paper responds to the parameters set out in the Department’s March 2023 consultation paper titled “National Labour Hire Regulation: Towards a single national scheme” (Consultation Paper). The BCA’s membership includes providers and clients of labour hire services. This submission reflects the views of each category of these businesses.
The BCA in principle supports national schemes where they avoid the complexity, inconsistency and costs of different systems operating in separate state and territory jurisdictions.
A fit for purpose scheme for the licensing of labour hire businesses should be based on these key objectives: it should be targeted to address where there are problems, and provide specific solutions to those issues, such as those identified by the Migrant Workers’ Taskforce (MWT) Report.
The Consultation Paper goes well beyond those identified issues. Instead of seeking to safeguard this cohort of workers, the concepts proposed will deliver an increasingly complex system which will be impossible for business to work with. Once more, we are seeing policy designed without having regard to the specific problem it is trying to address.
The BCA opposes legislative overreach that goes beyond the identified problems. Any national scheme should not lead to:
- a duplication of obligations on businesses already covered by existing laws
- unwieldy and burdensome reporting and application requirements, and
- the involvement of unions in ‘overseeing’ the independent Fair Work Ombudsman and having access to highly confidential and sensitive personal, business and financial information as a requirement for obtaining a LHL.
The BCA does acknowledge that in principle, a single national scheme is preferable to conflicting state and territory schemes. However, it remains unclear how this will be achieved with the broad proposals being put forward.
In addition this Consultation Paper is presented without due consideration as to who they relate to other reforms including same job, same pay and the significant increased risks of inadvertent wage theft and higher penalties, due to the complexity of the potential requirements under LHL.