Modern Slavery Reporting for Labour Hire and Workforce Services Providers: The Basics

If you’re a labour hire or workforce services provider, you’ll likely be receiving requests for information about what steps you’ve taken to combat risks of modern slavery in your supply chains or operations.

You might even be large enough to have to prepare your own modern slavery statements, and you could be requesting similar information from your suppliers. 

That’s because Australian entities that have a consolidated revenue of $100 million or more must lodge statements under the Modern Slavery Act 2018 (Cth),

For most of them, the extended lodgment date is 31 March 2021. But a few entities will have different reporting dates – some as soon as 31 December 2020. You can check it out here.

So, over the coming weeks, we’ll be posting some short updates and commentary in the RCSA-hosted Labour Hire Licensing & Regulation LinkedIn Group. Be sure to look in on us regularly. And if you have questions, don’t hesitate to ask.

Andrew C. Wood

Modern Slavery Reporting about How Labour Hire Workers Are Used

Lately, I’ve been developing a range of modern slavery reporting resources for Australian labour hire and workforce services providers. Amongst the materials provided by the Commonwealth government, I came across this piece of guidance, which had me scratching my head:

Under the Act reporting entities are not required to report on modern slavery risks associated with how their customers use the products or services they purchase. For example, a mining company is not required to report on whether the overseas smelter that purchases its ore uses forced labour. Similarly, landlords and lessors are not required to report on modern slavery risks associated with the operations and supply chains of lessees.

Commonwealth Modern Slavery Act 2018: Guidance for Reporting Entities, p.34

So, I asked the Border Force Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit if it had a view on how that piece of guidance might be applied to labour hire and workforce services providers.

You will see the issue, immediately. Labour hire providers supply workers. So, the use to which customers put those workers may have a direct impact on risks of exposure to modern slavery practices.

The Modern Slavery Business Engagement Unit was great. They got back to me straight away. Here is their reply:

We would expect that labour hire agencies required to report under the Modern Slavery Act address possible modern slavery risks associated with the use of workers they provide to other businesses in their modern slavery statements. These workers are usually employees of the labour hire agency and their provision to other businesses forms part of the labour hire agency’s operations.

Reply 2 November 2020

So, if you are a labour hire or workforce services provider, it seems that will need to give some thought to whether your customers’ use of your workers might expose them to the risk of modern slavery practices, and you’ll need to report about that.

Andrew C. Wood

Victoria’s Public Health and Wellbeing Act Amendment – Are we asking the right questions?

A lot of attention has been given recently to claims that the Victorian Government is attempting to extend the current state of emergency for another twelve months. But to my mind, it’s the amendments to the threshold sections that warrant the greater parliamentary and public scrutiny.

To be fair, the amendment to section 198 – the duration section – only provides that the total aggregate length of a state of emergency can be extended to 12 months. If you’re dealing with an event that will last longer than the current six-month limit, there would seem to be some sense in that.

However, the amendment to section 199 is more troubling. It proposes to reduce the threshold required for the Chief Health Officer to authorise emergency powers from a belief that it is “necessary” to a belief that it is merely”reasonably necessary” to do so.

Further amendents would allow a state of emergency to be declared even where the rate of community transmission of COVID-19 in Victoria is low, or there are no new cases of COVID-19 for a period of time. 

We’ll have to see what happens. In the meantime, you can read the explanatory memorandum here:

Post-Law Day #330 (or thereabouts)

I didn’t forsee, when I left legal practice for a post-law career, that I’d be going back to school. But here I am, enrolled in a post graduate certificate course at QUT in Education (Innovative Learning Design) and loving it!

Just taking small steps – one unit at a time. So, in this learning period I’m enrolled in a unit with the intriguing title, “Authentic Learning and Assessment“.

What have I learned so far?

I need to apologise for all those 7,000 – 8,000 word research essay assignments I set!

First summative assessment due next Monday. Goes around… comes around!

At least it’s not a research essay!!

Teacher 3




Wanted to say how proud I am of our #3121 Richmond community. Out in the Gleadell St markets & Bridge Rd shops this morning and sensed the mood  of the past couple of weeks might be lifting. People making eye contact, acknowledging each other. Just as tough and yet a little kinder. Reckon we’ll make it through this. Stay well everyone.

Return of “Recruitment Fee” Webinar Series

I’m looking forward to presenting two webinars on recruitment fee topics again in February 2020. I’m looking forward to it because it’s a topic that I’m constantly asked about and one that needs to be mastered in the interests of promoting and maintaining professional standards in the recruitment and staffing industry.

This time I’ll be presenting the webinars on successive days.

Recruitment Fees 1Webinar #1: Make Binding & Effective Agreements (27th Feb. 2020 )

In the first session, we will discuss how to make binding and effective recruitment fee agreements that will reduce the cost of disputes and help get your fees paid.

You’ll learn about:

  • basics of contract
  • the battle of forms – Does the client’s purchase order trump your standard terms?
  • traps when using standard form terms of business
  • State and Territory employment agent regulation
  • what happens if your terms of business are not signed?
  • terms of business that need special treatment.

Webinar #2: Handle Disputes Ethically & Professionally (28th Feb. 2020)Recruitment Fees 2

In the second session, you will learn how to handle recruitment fee disputes professionally and ethically to preserve goodwill, reputation, and to improve payment outcomes.

You’ll learn about:

  • common causes of recruitment fee disputes
  • common defences to recruitment fee claims
  • traps to avoid when involved in disputes
  • RCSA Code of Conduct and Grievance Intervention Guidelines
  • pathways to resolution
  • the benefit of early intervention.

I hope you’ll join me. And if you have questions about the topic, please feel free to send them to me ahead of the event.


Andrew C. Wood, Hon FRCSA (Life)

Recruitment & Staffing Professional Waypoints

“Tuesday TalkAbout” returns in January 2020 with a Summer Program of eight free, short webinars, in which we’ll discuss some waypoints which the recruitment & staffing sector in Australia and New Zealand has reached in key areas of operation and professional conduct.

What is a “waypoint?” .  Think of it as a place on a route or pathway, a stopping point, or a point at which one’s course can be changed.

What the future holds from that point forward largely flows from decisions and commitments which recruitment & staffing professionals make for their own organisations and professional lives – either intentionally or by default.

I hope you’ll join the discussion.

Businessman & Newspaper



Andrew C. Wood

Seven Great Learning Opportunities with WorkAccord in December

Christmas learningHere’ are seven professional learning opportunities with WorkAccord through December – some free, some paid.

1. Tuesday TalkAbout #8 (Free webinar) (Completed)

Tue 03 Dec 8:30 am AEDT (30 minutes)

Industry Certification Schemes as Regulatory Licensing Alternatives

Can industry certification schemes be viable alternatives to statutory licensing schemes? We discuss different types of certification schemes and consider their pros and cons as regulatory alternatives. In doing so, we’ll also look at Regulatory Impact Statement that supported the Victorian licensing scheme to see how it worked. What assumptions were made? Were they correct? How might a federal RIS and outcome differ?

This will be a valuable session for anyone who is engaged or interested in labour-hire industry policymaking.

2. Whistleblower Policy Bootcamp – ($88 Early Bird registration still available to 02/12/19; Regular registration $180) (Completed)

Fri 06 Dec at 10; 30 am AEDT (100 minutes) (Completed)

Whistleblower Policy Bootcamp – Strengthen your Knowledge

Public companies, Large private companies, and Trustees of superannuation entities must have whistleblower policies in place by 1 January 2020. Even though other companies don’t have to have a policy, the whistleblower protections apply to all companies regardless of size.

Our Bootcamp is designed for participants who need to have (or would benefit from) a whistleblower policy and want to know where to start.

You will learn about the whistleblower disclosure protections and the requirements for a policy that complies with the regulatory guidance provided by ASIC We’ll also cover some of trickier aspects – e.g. authorising your industry association to receive disclosures and integrating your whistleblower policies with codes of professional conduct and other responsibilities.

You might also be interested in our “Sandbox” and “Power-Up” sessions on Whistleblower Policies – all designed to put you in control to meet your 1 January 2020 compliance target.

3. Tuesday TalkAbout #9 (Free webinar) (Completed)

Tue 10 Dec 8:30 am AEDT (30 minutes)

Freelance Platforms New idea or New technology?

You might have a view about whether freelance platforms present a threat to the industry or whether they are part of the industry. But have you ever looked into their terms and conditions to see how they run and where they fit within the industry? We discuss actual examples of some freelance platform terms and conditions to see how they operate and why they are different from your usual terms and conditions.

4. Whistleblower Policy Sandbox- ($88 Early Bird registration to 09/12/19; Regular registration $180)

Fri 13 Dec at 10; 30 am AEDT (90 minutes)

Whistleblower Policy Sandbox- Test your Design

Our Sandbox session follows on from our earlier Bootcamp and is designed for participants who’ve been working on their whistleblower policy (or are about to) and want to test or get feedback on their design ahead of the commencement date on 1st Jan 2020. You don’t have to have completed the Sandbox session to register for this webinar, but we think it would help.

Register for the Sandbox here.

5. Tuesday TalkAbout #10 (Free webinar)

Tue 17 Dec 8:30 am AEDT (30 minutes)

Piece Rates: Explained

We discuss piece rates under some common awards and consider how to manage risk when applying them. What do courts look for? How can you get that sort of information from your clients? How can you protect yourself against underpayment claims? Some labour hire firms have recently received commendation from the FWO for the diligent work they have been doing to improve performance in this area. What could you do to get amongst them?

Register for Tuesday TalkAbout #10 here

6. Australian Labour Hire Licensing “Power-Up” – ($88 Early Bird registration by  13/12/19; Regular registration  $180)

Wed 18 Dec at 10:00 am AEDT (90 minutes)

Australian Labour Hire Licensing “Power-Up” – Ask-me-anything!

Ask me anything about the Australian labour hire licensing schemes before the Victorian Labour Hire Authority’s “Grace Period” ends on 31 December. That’s right! You might still be able to get your application lodged and continue to provide labour-hire services even though you missed the 29 October cutoff. But note! There are some conditions and mere freedom from prosecution might not solve all the difficulties you’ll face.

So, here’s a chance to “power-up” with information targetted to your specific questions. We’ve set up a landing page and are inviting questions in advance so that you can add your own, or vote up the questions that grab your interest.

Register for the Australian Labour Hire “Power-Up” here

7. Whistleblower Policy “Power-Up”- ($88 Early Bird registration by  13/12/19; Regular registration  $180)

Wed 18 Dec at 12:00 pm AEDT (90 minutes)

Whistleblower Policy “Power-Up”- Ask-me-anything!

Some of you might still be working (like Santa’s elves!) over the Christmas holiday break to get your whistleblower policies in place for 1 January 2020. WorkAccord is sticking around to lend a hand, having worked on the RCSA  Code Guidance Note and accompanying Whistleblower Policy Template.

This “Power-Up” webinar is an ask-me-anything style session designed to round out your knowledge from the earlier Bootcamp and help you put the finishing touches to the policy you might have developed in our Sandbox – all in time to knock off for a well-earned break!

We’re setting up a landing page and will be inviting questions in advance so that you can add your own, or vote up the questions that grab your interest. 

Register for the Whistleblower Policy “Power-Up” here

You can check out the status of WorkAccord’s Tuesday TalkAbout Spring 2019 program here. Most of the sessions have been completed and archived. But don’t worry. We’ve recorded on-demand versions that we can still make available at a very modest cost. And Tuesday TalkAbout will be returning with a new Summer 2020 program in January. So, stay tuned…

Andrew C. Wood

Do Victoria’s Christmas Talent Agencies and Incorporated Christmas Talent Need Labour Hire Licences?

This Article May Contain Sensitive Material

For any youthful readers of this piece, let me start by saying that we all know that the real Father Christmas lives at the North Pole with Mother Christmas, the Pixies, Rudolph and the other reindeer.

And we all know that all the friendly people who run around in costume – the Santas, Mothers Christmas (I hope that’s the correct plural), the Pixies, the Wise Persons, Shepherds, Angels, and pantomime camels – let’s call them the Christmas Talent – are just helping out. It could be a franchise, I’m not sure. I haven’t looked at it.

At least, I hope we all know that Christmas Talent is mostly pretend. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to see them because we know that when they start popping up in the stores, Christmas is not too far away.

I’m Concerned

Now here’s my concern.

Up until now, a lot of the Christmas Talent have been sourced through talent agencies. Up until now, that’s not been a problem in Victoria – but now it might be.

It might be a problem because if you’re supplying workers (let’s say Christmas Talent) to another person (let’s say a department store) to perform work in and as part of the store’s business or undertaking (seems likely), then you might need a labour hire licence.

This test is sometimes called an “integration test”. It’s not easy to apply, and it can depend on subtle, fact-sensitive inquiries that can only be determined authoritatively by a court. It can also have some pretty unexpected results.

Queensland & South Australia

Queensland and South Australia got this right because in those States talent agencies are subject to private employment agency regulation in addition to labour hire licensing.

So, Queensland and South Australia both created an exemption from the need to have a labour hire licence if you are acting solely as a private employment agency.[1]


But there’s no similar exemption in Victoria. So, if you’re supplying a worker to do work in and as part of another person’s business or undertaking, you’ll possibly need a licence (unless you can bring yourself within one of the other exceptions).

Also in Victoria, if you’re sourcing and placing workers (let’s say Christmas Talent) with clients who are engaging them directly as independent contractors, and you continue to handle payroll or other aspects of the placement administration, you’ll possibly need a licence (unless you can bring yourself within one of the other exceptions).

Incorporated Christmas Talent

It gets even more complicated if your Christmas Talent is self-incorporated – i.e. they’re working through their own small company. That’s because their own small company is supplying the individuals who perform the work and therefore needs to hold a licence in its own right (unless it can bring itself within one of the exceptions).

Fortunately, there is an exception for small companies that have no more than two directors and only supply their directors who participate in management or share in the profits.

But that exception will only go so far. An exempt company couldn’t supply say, Three Wise Men – apart from whatever difficulties they might have in sourcing three wise men (old joke). Two would be OK provided they were both directors who participated in management or shared in the profits.

Likewise, a pantomime camel needs two people (front end and back end). That would be OK provided both ends were directors who participated in management or shared in the profits. But if one end gets sick – they’re going to end up with a two-legged camel unless they’ve got a labour hire licence. That’s because substitution requires a third person.

Same deal with Rudolph. And if you’re thinking of hiring the Von Trapp Family Carol Singers – better check their labour hire licence unless they’re incorporated and you’re only wanting two of them!

Although there’s an exemption for incorporated workers, it doesn’t extend to family partnerships or other unincorporated business structures.[2]

Call Me a Grinch!

I could go on… But you’ll have the gist of it by now, and you can perhaps see the problem that arises when labour-hire licensing is introduced on a universal coverage basis without being targeted to the sectors where it’s really needed.

Did anyone think this would be an outcome when the scheme was proposed? Of course, they didn’t. The States were urged to adopt targeted schemes. The Victorian Forsyth Inquiry even recommended it.  But those urgings and recommendations were mostly ignored.

So if you’re hiring Christmas Talent in Victoria this year or if you’re working as Incorporated Christmas Talent, whatever other checks you do, be sure to check that any necessary labour hire licence issues are covered.

Boy Riding Camel




Andrew C. Wood



[1] It can get tricky if you’re doing more than acting purely as a private employment agency – say handling payroll or administration.

[2] South Australia fixed this up by Gazettal on 26 September 2019. Although the exemption is still limited to a maximum of two workers.