The Victorian Inquiry into Labour Hire and Insecure Work: Addressing Worker Exploitation in Complex Business Structures

Anthony Forsyth


Abstract Purpose. This paper highlights the growing evidence over the last 3 years of systemic non-compliance with workplace laws in Australia, and considers a range of reform options.
Design/methodology/approach. The paper draws upon scholarly evidence presented to the independent Inquiry into Labour Hire and Insecure Work carried out in the state of Victoria, Australia (2015-16), along with other sources, to examine the connection between complex business structures and exploitation of vulnerable workers.
Findings. Non-compliance with workplace laws, including underpayments and health and safety breaches, are commonly associated with the use by businesses of various structures through which they are effectively distanced from direct responsibility for employment obligations.
Research limitations/implications. The research contributes to international debates on the ‘fissuring’ of work and regulatory responses to worker exploitation.
Originality/value. The paper collates recent evidence on the nature and extent of exploitative labour practices within labour hire arrangements, franchising and supply chains in Australia.
Paper type. Law and policy paper.

Keywords: Worker Exploitation, Vulnerable Workers, Business Structures, Labour Hire, Franchising, Supply Chains, Victorian Labour Hire and Insecure Work Inquiry