Wage Inspectorate Victoria

Work Right

Overview

The Wage Inspectorate Victoria will help better protect worker rights under a range of Victorian industrial relations laws.

These laws currently include the areas of child employment, long service leave, and independent contractors operating in the transport and forestry sectors. 

The Inspectorate will be able to provide practical advice, education and support to employees and employers about these laws, their work rights and responsibilities. It will conduct targeted information campaigns on issues of key concern. It will investigate complaints, and carry out a range of compliance, enforcement and information functions to ensure Victorians are afforded their work rights, and businesses are not undercut by unfair treatment of rogue operators in the marketplace.

The Wage Inspectorate will also work closely with other Victorian and Commonwealth agencies to ensure fair employment conditions, including the soon to be established independent Victorian Labour Hire Authority (LHA). The LHA will oversee a new licensing system for labour hire businesses operating in Victoria. Licensing obligations are not yet in force

The Inspectorate will form part of Industrial Relations Victoria in the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources.

More information will also be provided on this page through regular updates on the work of the Inspectorate.

Detailed information about both existing and new laws, and helpful links are included below.

Contact

For employees or an employer with any enquiries about your rights and responsibilities under existing Victorian laws.

Long service leave and child employment enquiries

Tel: 1800 287 287

email: childemployment@ecodev.vic.gov.au or longserviceleave@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Owner drivers and forestry contractors enquiries

email: irv.info@ecodev.vic.gov.au

General enquiries 

For all other enquiries please contact the Department

email: irv.info@ecodev.vic.gov.au

Child employment

Victoria's employment laws protect children from being exploited by requiring permits to be obtained before hiring anyone under the age of 15 years.

If you're considering employing someone under the age of 15 years, you will need to consider the following:

  • Most types of employment, whether paid or unpaid, will require a permit.
  • You must obtain a permit prior to the employment commencing.
  • Employing a child without a permit is a criminal offence and may attract a penalty.
  • A child must be supervised by someone who holds a current, valid Working with Children Check (employee copy) unless exempt.
  • There are permits for the entertainment (including advertising) industry and industries other than entertainment, please ensure that you select the correct application for your industry.
  • To employ a child to do delivery work, the minimum age is 11 years and you will need to apply for an 'industries other than entertainment' permit.
  • To employ a child in other categories of work, such as retail or hospitality, the minimum age is 13 years, you will need to apply for an 'industries other than entertainment' permit.
  • There is no minimum age for children working in the entertainment industry.
  • Children in entertainment have their conditions set down by a Mandatory Code of Practice and you'll need to apply for an entertainment industry permit.

More information about employing children can be found on the Business Victoria website

Long Service Leave

Long service leave is an entitlement for all Victorian employees (note - some workers may be covered by a different scheme, through their enterprise agreement, and workers in the building and construction sector are covered by the CoINVEST scheme).

Long service leave is available to workers who have worked for the one employer for a minimum of seven continuous years. If the business in which you work is sold, and you stay with the new owner, you are considered to have worked with the one employer. The entitlement is calculated as 1/60th of the employment period, so if you have 10 years' service, your entitlement is approximately 8.7 weeks' leave.

The taking of leave should be at a time agreed to by the employer and employee, although an employer can direct their employee to take long service leave, if they give three months' notice.

More information about Long Service Leave can found on the Business Victoria website including the Long Service Leave calculator

The new Long Service Leave Act 2018 was passed by the Victorian Parliament on 8 May 2018 and will become operational by November 2018. Wage Inspectorate Victoria will provide a comprehensive information campaign before the new laws commence, to ensure that employees and employers are aware their rights and obligations.

For example, under the new laws, any period of paid parental leave and a period of twelve months (or greater if agreed) of unpaid parental leave will count as service, and no amount of parental leave will break continuity of service. Prior to these changes, if an employee took more than twelve months unpaid parental leave they lost continuity of service, and might lose accrued long service leave if they had not reached the qualifying period.

The new laws allow workers to apply for leave after seven years' service, rather than after ten years. They also enable an employee, with the agreement of their employer, to take a minimum of one day's leave at a time.

 

Owner drivers and forestry contractors

The Inspectorate will have functions of information, enforcement and compliance under proposed amendments to Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Act 2005 . 

The Act sets out requirements to assist owner driver and forestry contractors to improve their business skills and better understand their cost structures and their contracts. This enables contractors to assess whether an offer from a hirer will cover their operating costs, provide a return for their own labour and a return on their business investment.

Hirers are required to provide owner drivers with:

  • The applicable rates and costs schedule, which gives information on the typical running costs of a business and rates typically paid to employee drivers for similar work.
  • An information booklet, which is a practical resource covering rights and obligations, guidance for running a small business, laws and regulations that apply, and sources of advice and assistance.
  • A written contract.
  • Notice of termination or payment in lieu of termination.

Certain owner driver engagements must be in writing and must specify the minimum hours of work or income level that the contractor will receive. The Transport Industry Council has prepared a model contract for use by the industry.

More information about owner drivers and forestry contractors can be found on Business Victoria website.

Victorian Owner Drivers and Forestry Contractors Amendment Bill 2018

Once passed, the amending Bill will improve financial certainty and provide sustainable conditions for owner drivers and forestry contractors by reducing the economic factors that can act as an incentive for owner drivers to engage in unsafe driving practices.

The amendments include:

  • Promoting industry best practice, education and training.
  • Helping businesses by simplifying contract arrangements, so that invoices are payable within 30 days.
  • The establishment of a compliance and enforcement framework, including the introduction of penalties for non-compliance with the mandatory requirements of the ODFC Act, which include the provision of a written contract and an information booklet.
  • Clarification of various definitions to make clear that digital platform operators in the freight sector are covered.
  • Access to a fast, low cost and confidential building dispute resolution process through the Victorian Small Business Commission.

The Wage Inspectorate will conduct a comprehensive information campaign before the laws commence, to ensure that those affected by these new laws are aware their rights and obligations and where to seek assistance.

Labour Hire

The Inspectorate will also work with other agencies as needed.

The Victorian Government is currently setting up an independent statutory agency to regulate labour hire across all industries in Victoria.

The Labour Hire Authority, (LHA) which will be based in Bendigo, is due to commence operation in the first part of next year. The Wage Inspectorate will work with the LHA to assist Victorian workers.

The LHA will have a staff of more than 20, including a team of enforcement and compliance officers.

To operate in the labour hire industry, Victoria's 1200 plus labour hire companies will need to have a licence or to have applied for a licence in the first six months following the start of the LHA's operation.

The agency's inspectorial staff will have powers to enter premises where labour hire workers are employed to check:

  • That they have come from a registered agency
  • Their accommodation meets appropriate standards.

While inspectorial staff will have power to prosecute unlicensed labour hire companies operating in the market and host companies who use them, they will not have the power to prosecute for breaches of awards or federal system matters.

Such breaches can be referred to relevant agencies, such as the Fair Work Ombudsman, WorkSafe and Consumer Affairs for further investigation and action.

Ministerial expectations

The Statement of Expectations for the Employment Information and Compliance Unit sets out the expectations of the Unit's contribution to the Government's Regulation Reform Program to reduce red tape and improve regulatory practices.