An engineering firm and multiple subcontractors face possible penalties of more than AU$5.5 million (US$3.5 million) for allegedly sourcing workers from unlicensed staffing firms.

The Labour Hire Authority for Australia’s state of Victoria filed court proceedings alleging Rocktown Pty. Ltd., an engineering contractor, used two unlicensed subcontractors to supply workers. Labor hire is an Australian term for staffing. Workers were used for work on prefabricated concrete for use in construction.

“Subcontracting labor is a common practice in construction and other industries — this case highlights that all companies supplying labor hire workers in a supply chain must hold a license,” Labour Hire Licensing Commissioner Steve Dargavel said in a press release.

In this instance, the subcontractors — Unitted Construction Pty. Ltd. and Unitted Landscaping Pty. Ltd. — allegedly further sourced workers through unlicensed providers Century Interior Service Pty. Ltd. and VL Building Pty. Ltd., according to the Labour Hire Authority.

Individual claims were also filed against three directors from the companies that supplied the labor, according to the authority. It noted all five businesses have cooperated with its investigation.

The probe follows several other cases prosecuted by the Labour Hire Authority for alleged noncompliance:

  • A company was alleged to have provided grape pickers without a license.
  • A case was filed against a firm for providing fruit and vegetable pickers without a license.
  • A firm in the Cobram area faces a case for allegedly sourcing workers from unlicensed suppliers.
  • The authority filed a case in July alleging multiple breaches of obligations by company directors at a firm that operated in the Yarra Valley and Koo Wee Rup.
  • The authority said it successfully prosecuted a firm supplying workers for failing to notify the authority about a new director who had criminal convictions.

The authority noted companies can check if a labor hire firm is licensed by viewing the register of licensed providers.

SIA reached out to Rocktown for comment. Contact information for the other firms was not available.

Separately, Labour Hire Licensing Queensland, which operates in the Australian state of Queensland, announced in early October that three companies received fines for operating labor hire services without a license.