Licensing scheme likely to help stop worker exploitation

28 October 2016
Maurice Blackburn Lawyers has welcomed a decision by the Victorian Government to introduce a licensing scheme to better regulate the scandal-plagued labour hire industry.

“Such a scheme will help stamp out rogue and unscrupulous operators and prevent the exploitation of workers,” employment law expert Kamal Farouque said.

The announcement followed the tabling in Parliament today of the Labour Hire Industry and Insecure Work report by Professor Anthony Forsyth, which makes 35 recommendations and clearly sets out a way forward to protect workers from being exploited.

The report followed an inquiry by Prof Forsyth, which uncovered underpayment of award wages, tax avoidance, non-payment of superannuation, poor occupational health and safety practices, maltreatment of workers and backpackers on visas together with some illegal conduct. It also exposed widespread cases of worker exploitation, which was especially prominent in the horticultural, meat and contract cleaning industries.

Mr Farouque said: “The dramatic decline in permanent employment in Australia over the past two decades, and the increase in insecure forms of employment such as casual, contract work and labour hire, has had a significant impact on workers, their families and the wider community.

“We represent many workers employed through insecure arrangements who have been subjected to shameful exploitation, therefore, we have great insight into just how many workers are being affected by unlawful practices.

“Such treatment challenges fundamental aspects of employment that Australians hold dear: regular pay, ongoing employment, protection and fair conditions, and the opportunity for career advancement, so we welcome the government’s decision to introduce much-needed reforms.”