Labor has said it will audit labour hire roles within the public service to ensure fair conditions and pay in a bid to shake up parts of the sector that profit off "making a quick buck off the backs of working people".
Public service spokesperson Senator Katy Gallagher told The Canberra Times the new "same job, same pay" policy would extend to the public service to ensure those engaged by labour-hire firms were not paid less than those who were employed directly.
But a peak business body has slapped down the proposal, saying it will undermine the competitiveness and flexibility of the country's workforce.
It comes as Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told Parliament on Monday the entitlements of casual workers will be a key Labor focus for next year's election campaign.
A private bill to amend existing employment laws will be introduced during the last sitting fortnight for the year, aiming to allow casual workers employed through labour-hire companies to enjoy the same entitlements as those engaged directly by employers.
It will target companies profiting from sourcing casual workers at a lower cost.
"Many labour hire firms across Australia operate in a fair way and exist for a good reason. We have no issue with them," Mr Albanese said.
"But there are unscrupulous ones making a quick buck off the backs of working people, providing workers to major companies at lower wages than if the companies had hired them directly."
He added it was "that simple" that workers doing the same job in the same workplaces should receive equal pay.
Senator Gallagher said the public service would not be spared from the policy, and that if Labor wins the next federal election, it would crack down on the high use of labour hire among government agencies.
The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry slammed the policy, warning it would restrict labour hire workers from negotiating their conditions and pay.
Chief executive Andrew McKellar labelled the bill as "grossly unfair".
"Paying a labour hire employee the wage set by a 'host employer' is grossly unfair. Regardless of the labour hire employees' existing rates, their views, or negotiations with their employer, labour hire workers won't get a say under this bill," he said.
"Employers and employees should be able to sit down and make their own decisions regarding employment conditions and wages in compliance with workplace regulations.
The number of labour hire contractors within the bureaucracy is not recorded centrally within the public service commission or the Finance Department but some agencies have been reported to have as many as half of their workforce on temporary contracts.
Auditor-general Grant Hehir told a parliamentary inquiry into the public service in August that his office was preparing to conduct an audit of the bureaucracy's largest users of labour hire.
An internal audit into whether APS contractors are being used appropriately would also be undertaken under a Labor government, Senator Gallagher promised.
"Labor strongly believes that taxpayers' money should be used to employ people in secure jobs with fair pay and conditions," she said.
"Under the Morrison/Joyce government insecure work has become all too common and instead of creating secure jobs, public money has been flowing to expensive labour-hire firms that give their employees a dud deal when it comes to pay and conditions when they are compared to directly employed APS employees. It's simply not fair.
"Only a Labor government will take steps to stand up for the pay and conditions of public servants, including conducting an audit of employment within the APS where temporary forms of work are being used inappropriately."
A Canberra Times analysis earlier this year found contractors averaged one in five workers across the 14 departments.
The Department of Veterans' Affairs recorded the highest number with 42 per cent of staff being engaged through labour hire firms while the Department of Defence and the Attorney-General's Department sat at 24 and 21 per cent respectively.
Following the federal budget release in May, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said labour hire patterns fluctuated each year for different agencies, depending on operational pressures.
"Labour hire has an important place in many areas of work, including for major transformational efforts as well as for roles that are seasonal, projects that are one-off and time sensitive, like those seen during the COVID-19 pandemic," he said in May.
"The budget process allows for the government to routinely scrutinise staff allocations to ensure they are optimal in the present environment, and to ensure any new pressures can best be met by reprioritising existing staff or by engaging new staff.
- with AAP