Labour hire workers have been granted additional rights and protections under recent changes to the Occupational Health and Safety and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 (OHS Act). These changes came into effect on Tuesday, 22 March 2022.
The OHS Act states that a host employer is taken to be an 'employer' of a labour hire worker if a provider of labour hire services supplies the worker to, recruits the worker for, or places the worker with the person to perform work for the person.
A labour hire worker is treated as an 'employee' of the host employer for the purposes of the OHS Act. This means that if a host employer owes a duty under the OHS Act to an employee, they will now also owe it to a labour hire worker.
Labour hire providers are still directly responsible for worker health and safety
Labour hire providers should note that these changes do not remove providers’ responsibility to ensure their workers’ health and safety. Rather, these changes give labour hire workers the same rights and protections at their host employer’s workplace as employees of the host.
It is essential that labour hire providers work with hosts – so far as is reasonably practicable – consult, coordinate and cooperate with each other where they share OHS duties to labour hire workers. This means they should:
- exchange information that allows them to jointly manage health and safety
- implement health and safety arrangements identified as necessary and respond to reasonable requests, and
- work together to ensure each part can met their duties without leaving gaps in health and safety.
Providers who fail in their OHS obligations risk jeopardising their licence to operate.
Visit the WorkSafe website to find out more about labour hire health and safety responsibilities. We encourage providers who are at all confused about their OHS obligations to seek professional assistance.