Labor plans crackdown on ‘dodgy’ hire companies.
Labor plans crackdown on ‘dodgy’ hire companies.

Crackdown on ‘dodgy’ hire companies

THE Opposition today is vowing to take on "dodgy" labour hire companies which undercut employment standards.

The aim would be to ensure jobs they offered were at the same pay and conditions enjoyed by workers who were directly employed.

Mr Shorten today is promising a licensing scheme and related measures with the slogan, "If you are doing the same job, you should get the same pay".

He said the objective was "to build a fair labour hire industry that helps businesses meet their needs, while protecting workers".

The policy responds to strengthening complaints by unions over what they see as unfair labour hire practices, and will anger some of the growing number of companies using their services.

The Opposition argues two people can be working side-by-side but on different wages, depending on how they were employed.

Labour hire firms are useful providers of workers to fill staff gaps, and can lead to employees who start as casuals becoming full-time.

Mr Shorten said while some workers like the flexibility that labour hire provides, it can also be used to pay workers less than a directly employed worker and to avoid conditions that a worker would otherwise be entitled to.

And shadow employment minister Brendan O'Connor points to job insecurity and increased casualisation.


Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.


The Opposition identifies and quotes a Queensland storeman employed through a labour hire company.

The storeman, named Gustavo, is quoted as saying," If you made safety observations, you would be ignored and asked to do the job anyway.

"You're basically not allowed to get sick. If you got sick one week, they could cut your hours the next week.

"Every Friday we're given days we will be working, but we are just given the time we start and not the time we are finishing. Sometimes they would work 10-12 hours and told on the day that if you can't do that you would lose hours the next week."

Another case was of a woman, Tanya, who worked for a security company.

"Tanya's experience with the labour hire company was that there was no consistency with her pay," says the case study which identified her fully.

"She would work public holidays and sometimes they would pay time and a half and sometimes they would decide not to pay any overtime.

"Tanya was underemployed as a casual and would have loved to have been a full-time employee.

Says this is rampant throughout the security industry."

Opposition Leader Shorten today said a Labor Government would "protect workers and ensure they get a fair deal by tackling unfair labour hire, cracking down on dodgy labour hire companies that rip off and exploit workers.

"At the moment, there are too many workers in Australia subject to unfair labour hire practices, often treated like second class citizens with lower wages, worse conditions and no job security," he said.

"For some workers labour hire and casual work is a pathway into a permanent job, but for too many workers, it is now a way of life. For these workers it's tough to pay the rent and the bills, let alone get a car loan or a mortgage."

He said a Labor government would consult with labour hire companies, host employers, unions and other interested parties on the legislative scheme and transitional arrangements.

Small businesses would be exempted from the measures, allowing them to using labour hire companies to source workers on a temporary basis or to deliver specialist skills.