A Victorian company and its director have been fined a total of $483,428.40 following a successful prosecution by the Labour Hire Authority (LHA).
Ung Services Pty Ltd, which supplied horticulture workers in the Yarra Valley, failed to disclose that its new director Nico Keat had criminal convictions for offences including drug trafficking and theft.
Mr Keat had previously applied for a licence as director of a different company. After LHA denied this application, he became a director of Ung Services, without notifying LHA.
Under the Labour Hire Licensing Act 2018 (Vic), providers must notify LHA if their directors or other key people change, or if any key people cease to be fit and proper under the Act.
Ensuring directors and other key people involved in labour hire businesses are fit and proper is an important way LHA protects workers and improves the integrity of the industry.
LHA cancelled Ung Services’ licence and pursued legal action, to further hold the company to account for dishonestly attempting to circumvent labour hire licensing requirements.
“Ensuring we have fit and proper people running Victorian labour hire companies is an important way we can protect workers, and improve the industry’s integrity,” said Labour Hire Commissioner Steve Dargavel.
“If you meet your obligations and do the right thing by Victorian workers, you have nothing to worry about – if not, you should expect to face the consequences”.
The Supreme Court of Victoria issued fines of $386,742.72 to Ung Services, and $96,685.68 to Mr Keat, stating in its judgement:
“The knowing nature of the contraventions by UNG and Keat and their potential to undermine the Authority’s discharge of its protective and regulatory function, place them at the serious end of the behavioural spectrum.”
“The Act was enacted in the light of ‘significant evidence of exploitation of workers in the labour hire industry.” “… the contraventions strike at the heart of the protective purpose of the Act.”
LHA investigations had confirmed Mr Keat had been found guilty of 12 offences relating to drug trafficking, theft, failure to answer bail, and suspected proceeds of crime and stolen goods.
Ensure you notify LHA of any changes in relevant persons
The Act requires directors and other key people involved in managing the business to be fit and proper, to protect workers and improve the integrity of the industry.
LHA must be notified if directors or other relevant persons change, or are no longer fit and proper as specified by the Act.
If you have queries around this requirement, you can contact LHA by phone at 1300 545 200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org