Victoria’s labour hire licensing scheme is fully up and running – though perhaps stumbling forwards might be a better description.
After 6 months only about 380 licences have been granted, with another 50 or so granted subject to payment of fees.
There are more than 3,700 unprocessed applications. They are still coming in despite missing the cut-off date. If you’re in that long queue – or having to join it because you’ve decided you’d like to extend your labour hire business to Victoria – it could be as much as 12 months before you hear the outcome of your application.
One of the things that did surprise me was the fact that 200 or so applicants missed the cut-off last week by only a matter of days – even hours in some cases.
Cleaning firms seemed to be strongly represented amongst the near-misses, perhaps because of uncertainty about how the complex integration test and deemed worker provisions applied. Though there were others as well, including general labour hire providers, interstate providers, and at least one legal recruiter.
Misses will hurt
Those near-misses are going to hurt because, unless the applicants can fix something up quickly with the Authority, a miss is as good as a mile.
It’s now an offence under Victorian labour hire licensing laws:
- to provide labour hire services without a licence
- to advertise willingness to provide labour hire services if you don’t hold a licence
- to acquire labour hire services from an unlicensed provider
- to be involved in avoidance arrangements.
So, what’s likely to be happening now?
I suspect that there may be more than a few who have obtained their licences, or got their applications in ahead of the cut-off, who’ll be looking closely at the near-misses and perhaps giving their competitors, or their clients, a cordial “heads up”.
The regulator may be looking as well. If you’ve provided details of your clients and their workplaces, the regulator will know where to find them and might consider giving your clients a cordial reminder that the prohibitions are now in effect.
I suspect that there’ll be a few in the near-miss category, who’ll need to look at their supply arrangements to decide how quickly they can get out of them and if they can get out of them now without penalty.
Clients are likely to be looking at the registers to see which side of the cut-off their suppliers fall on. You might find that they are terminating contracts with unlicensed providers and thinking about what action they can take to recover the cost of entering into new or alternative supply arrangements.
There’ll be workers (and their unions) who’ll be wondering whether they still have jobs, and more than a few clients might be wondering how they can transition supplier arrangements.
There’ll also be more than a few who’ll have to fix up their websites and marketing so that they’re no longer advertising a willingness to provide labour hire services.
Maybe it will settle down eventually, but until then it’s a bit of a mess. Who knows, perhaps a federal scheme that prevails over state laws with a concerted move to dismantle the systems in the three states that now have labour hire licensing will be all that can clean it up.