A contractor licensing regime was one of the recommendations to stem from an extensive parliamentary inquiry into SA’s labour hire industry.
Under the scheme, labour hire firms would need to be registered and licensed in a federal framework, and penalties would be imposed on employers who used unlicensed companies.
As part of its major recommendation, SA parliament’s Economic and Finance Committee suggested there should be a public register of all labour hire contractors, and those contractors would have to show compliance with workplace and employment laws to get a licence.
The committee proposed the state government assist the federal government in implementing the scheme.
Committee chair Lee Odenwalder said a national licensing scheme would be integral in protecting vulnerable workers from “unscrupulous practices” in the labour hire industry, including non-payment of wages, and sub-standard accommodation arrangements.
Not all committee members were in agreeance, with Stephan Knoll, David Speirs and Vincent Tarzia signing off on a minority report disputing the effectiveness of a licensing scheme.
While they agreed more must be done to stamp out illegal behaviour by contractors, they said the majority report didn’t identify an area where law was insufficient.
The minority report said the increased regulatory and financial burden on labour hire firms through a licensing scheme would also add costs to the industries involved.
“Given the behaviour this reports seeks to reduce is already illegal, this minority report merely differs on how to achieve increased compliance,” the report said.
“Creating more red tape for those who already operate inside the law will not of itself increase compliance.”
The minority report recommended the SA government empower state agencies to increase inspections and investigation into claims of illegal behaviour, and call on federal agencies to ensure reports of illegal behaviour were investigated and prosecuted where appropriate.