Labour hire providers are now on notice that requiring workers or job applicants to pay for required personal safety equipment may result in sanctions, including licence application refusal, licence renewal refusal, licence conditions or licence cancellation.
The Labour Hire Authority (LHA) is warning providers they face losing their licence if they make workers pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other expenses such as Q Fever vaccinations when required for work.
The LHA recently imposed strict licence conditions on a provider which supplies workers to the meat manufacturing and processing industry. Through checks conducted during the provider’s labour hire licence application, the LHA discovered the provider was requiring workers and prospective workers to pay for their Q Fever vaccinations and safety boots.
The provider assisted the LHA with its enquiries and has agreed to address all concerns identified by the LHA. The LHA placed conditions on the provider’s licence and is empowered to monitor compliance with the conditions.
A provider who breaches the conditions on their licence is liable to penalties up to $145,000 per breach and their licence may be also be cancelled.
Labour hire providers and hosts are both responsible for the safety of labour hire workers under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic). Where a labour hire worker requires PPE to safely perform their work, labour hire providers and hosts should ensure that PPE is provided at no cost to the worker. Providers and hosts must make sure that PPE and other safety equipment continues to meet standards required by health and safety legislation. For further information visit worksafe.vic.gov.au/labour-hire
PPE that must be provided depends on the type of work being done and associated risks. PPE may include items such as:
- hardhats and helmets
- safety glasses and goggles
- facemasks and face shields
- safety boots.
In the meat manufacturing and processing industry, labour hire providers and hosts:
- must not require any worker to pay to get the Q Fever vaccination; and
- must provide Q Fever vaccination to workers free of charge where it is a requirement for work.
Hosts (including providers who subcontract) should note that if they do not pay their providers enough to ensure the provider can meet their legal obligations, they may be held responsible for those breaches. For example, hosts can be held liable as an accessory for their provider’s breaches of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).
“Labour hire workers have the same legal rights regarding health and safety as any other worker and should be supplied with required PPE free of charge,” said Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner, Steve Dargavel.
“Providers should now be absolutely aware that they should not charge their workers or prospective workers for personal protective equipment required for work.”
“It is deeply unfair to make job applicants or workers – some fulltime workers on as little as $772.60 per week – to pay up to $350 for a Q fever vaccination and $150 for safety boots.”
“Victoria’s labour hire licensing scheme is preventing the exploitation of labour hire workers by providers unlawfully making workers pay for safety equipment.”
Labour Hire Authority Media: 0448 815 436 firstname.lastname@example.org