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On 23 June 2021, the Victorian Government introduced amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) into the Victorian Parliament. If passed, the proposed amendments to the OHS Act (the Bill) will expand the obligations of employers in relation to labour hire employees and prohibit the use of insurance by employers to indemnify them against penalties.

The Bill proposes to:

  1. extend protections for labour hire employees;
  2. void insurance indemnity provisions for criminal penalties; and
  3. increase powers of regulators.

extended protections for labour hire employees

The Bill seeks to amend the OHS Act by:

  1. extending the definition of employee under the OHS Act to include labour hire workers and thereby extending employee protections to labour hire workers;
  2. introducing a duty for labour hire providers, and the employers to whom they provide workers, to consult and co-ordinate with each other on their shared responsibilities to ensure the safety of all labour hire employees; and
  3. introducing fines for duty holders of up to $32,713 for individuals and $163,566 for businesses.

voiding indemnity provisions

The Bill also proposes to:

  1. amend the OHS Act to render certain insurance and indemnity arrangements void where they are intended to indemnify a person’s liability to pay any pecuniary penalty as a result of breaches under the OHS Act; and
  2. make it an offence under the OHS Act to enter into an indemnity agreement with fines of up to $54,522 for individuals and $272,610 for businesses.

Similar amendments have also been proposed to apply to insurance and indemnity provisions under the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 (Vic) and the Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994 (Vic).

increased powers for regulators inspectors

The Bill also proposes a number of amendments that update powers for health and safety representatives to take photos and videos of potential safety breaches, and for WorkSafe Inspectors to issue notices and reports electronically.

contact us for advice

These changes reflect continued interest by the State Government in regulating labour hire practices. If passed, these amendments will have significant effects on businesses who regularly use labour hire and their duties to labour hire workers. These amendments will alter induction practices and procedure.

If you would like further information about the legislative changes detailed in the Bill, or if you require tailored and practical assistance in preparing your workplace for the implementation of these changes, please contact our Employment, Safety and Migration team.

stay up to date with our news & insights

occupational health and safety reforms to create new obligations for employers using labour hire workers

08 July 2021
stella gehrckens natalie montalto

On 23 June 2021, the Victorian Government introduced amendments to the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) into the Victorian Parliament. If passed, the proposed amendments to the OHS Act (the Bill) will expand the obligations of employers in relation to labour hire employees and prohibit the use of insurance by employers to indemnify them against penalties.

The Bill proposes to:

  1. extend protections for labour hire employees;
  2. void insurance indemnity provisions for criminal penalties; and
  3. increase powers of regulators.

extended protections for labour hire employees

The Bill seeks to amend the OHS Act by:

  1. extending the definition of employee under the OHS Act to include labour hire workers and thereby extending employee protections to labour hire workers;
  2. introducing a duty for labour hire providers, and the employers to whom they provide workers, to consult and co-ordinate with each other on their shared responsibilities to ensure the safety of all labour hire employees; and
  3. introducing fines for duty holders of up to $32,713 for individuals and $163,566 for businesses.

voiding indemnity provisions

The Bill also proposes to:

  1. amend the OHS Act to render certain insurance and indemnity arrangements void where they are intended to indemnify a person’s liability to pay any pecuniary penalty as a result of breaches under the OHS Act; and
  2. make it an offence under the OHS Act to enter into an indemnity agreement with fines of up to $54,522 for individuals and $272,610 for businesses.

Similar amendments have also been proposed to apply to insurance and indemnity provisions under the Dangerous Goods Act 1985 (Vic) and the Equipment (Public Safety) Act 1994 (Vic).

increased powers for regulators inspectors

The Bill also proposes a number of amendments that update powers for health and safety representatives to take photos and videos of potential safety breaches, and for WorkSafe Inspectors to issue notices and reports electronically.

contact us for advice

These changes reflect continued interest by the State Government in regulating labour hire practices. If passed, these amendments will have significant effects on businesses who regularly use labour hire and their duties to labour hire workers. These amendments will alter induction practices and procedure.

If you would like further information about the legislative changes detailed in the Bill, or if you require tailored and practical assistance in preparing your workplace for the implementation of these changes, please contact our Employment, Safety and Migration team.