Qld bans 100% FIFO workforces

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Qld bans 100% FIFO workforces

Large mining projects in Queensland will be banned from employing a 100% fly-in fly-out workforce under new laws which passed through state parliament last week.

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Employing a 100% fly-in fly-out workforce on large resource projects in Queensland is about to become unlawful owing to the passage through Parliament last week of the Strong and Sustainable Resource Communities Bill 2016.

Election commitment


The Queensland Minister for Natural Resources and Mines, Dr Anthony Lynham, said that the “Palaszczuk Government [had] delivered on its election commitment to legislate against 100% fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workforces on large resource projects near regional communities.”

Objects of the bill


The object of the bill is to ensure that residents of communities in the vicinity of large resource projects benefit from the operation of projects. This will be achieved, the bill says, by requiring owners/proponents to prepare a social impact assessment, to employ people from nearby communities and to not discriminate against residents from nearby regional communities when recruiting.

HR professionals take note


HR professionals should note that there is a prohibition on employing a 100% fly-in fly-out workforce.

It will become a criminal offence to advertise for workers in a way that would prohibit the employment of locals or would in any way state that locals are ineligible to apply for positions on large resources projects.

The bill also prohibits discrimination against residents of nearby regional communities when recruiting for workers and it prohibits employers from terminating an employment because the worker is, or becomes, a resident of the nearby regional community.

A “nearby regional community” is any community with 200 or more residents within 125km of a large resource project.

Contravention of the anti-discrimination provisions will render the owner and principal contractor jointly and severally liable in civil proceedings. “Discrimination” in this context means either not offering work to a person and/or putting him or her at a disadvantage because he or she is a local resident.

Reversal of the burden of proof


HR professionals will need to take and keep good notes of how recruitment is done, and should consider running blind recruitment processes, because the bill reverses the normal burden of proof when allegations of discrimination are made.

This means that if a local resident complains that he or she was discriminated against on the basis of his or her local residency status, then the complainant doesn't have to prove the truth of that assertion. Instead the company must prove it did not discriminate.

Other matters


Owners/proponents of resource projects must also undertake a social impact assessment including community and stakeholder engagement, workforce management, housing and accommodation, local business and industry procurement and health and community well-being. An independent co-ordinator general will have a variety of powers to administer the bill and enforce compliance.

Date of entry into force


The date of entry into force of the bill is somewhat uncertain. Even though the bill has passed the Queensland Parliament, it does not appear (as at today’s date) to have received the royal assent (so it has not become law). And, even after being assented, the law will not come into force until a future date is fixed by proclamation.

The creation of the bill follows from a parliamentary inquiry into the FIFO system of work practices in Queensland. The inquiry attracted 235 submissions, which were from a wide cross-section of the community.
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