Licensee in effective control of a brothel

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The Sex Work Act 1994 states that in order to be in effective control, a brothel licensee must be "regularly and usually in charge at the brothel". This means that you must oversee the running of the brothel.

You do not have to personally supervise every aspect of the brothel, but you are accountable for its day-to-day management and conduct. This includes operational, financial and legal decisions.

Effective control requirements

Effective control requirements aim to ensure that the licensee is the person who actually conducts, controls and obtains the financial benefit from the business.

If you fail to comply with the effective control requirements, you risk substantial fines or disciplinary proceedings which could result in suspension or cancellation of your licence.

You must be regularly and usually in charge at the brothel. You can demonstrate this by:

  • regular attendance at the brothel
  • having proper control and supervision of the approved manager(s), including:
    • arranging regular meetings with them to discuss the operation of the business
    • making yourself available to them to discuss additional issues that may come up
    • having an appropriate management plan and/or policies that cover the operation of the business
    • ensuring they comply with the Sex Work Act 1994 and all other relevant laws
  • taking reasonable steps to ensure that any approved manager, employee, independent contractor or any other person connected with the brothel complies with the Sex Work Act and any other relevant laws
  • establishing and monitoring procedures designed to ensure that the brothel operates in a legal and suitable manner.

If asked by one of our inspectors, you need to be able to show what steps you have taken to meet these obligations; for example, through record keeping.

Helping workers on your premises meet their legal obligations

A licensee must take reasonable steps to ensure all people working on the premises meet their legal obligations. As a licensee, you should provide information, instruction, training and/or supervision. This could include:

  • creating an induction program for anyone new who comes to work on the premises
  • providing people who work on the premises with fact sheets, a management plan and/or policy manuals relevant to the work they are doing on the premises
  • establishing a noticeboard
  • establishing an incident report book
  • having clear occupational health and safety (OHS) procedures and regularly informing all people working on the premises of these
  • ensuring all taxes (for example, GST) and other liabilities such as WorkSafe premiums are met
  • holding regular meetings with all people who work on the premises to discuss the business’s operation, especially where it may affect their ability to work safely.

Note: you are legally required to consult with people who work on your premises, and any health and safety representatives, when making decisions that could affect their safety.

Establishing and monitoring procedures

As a licensee, you are responsible for establishing and monitoring procedures to ensure your business complies with the law and operates in a suitable manner.

Procedures should address (but are not limited to):

  • financial reporting
  • OHS (including safer sex practices, lighting, alarms, maintenance of medical certificates and arrangements for the cleaning of rooms, as well as reporting and resolution of OHS matters)
  • staffing structure and duties of all people who work on the premises (including the extent of the licensee’s involvement in daily operations and duties of approved managers)
  • advertising and promotions (for example, websites)
  • protecting sex workers from violence and exploitation
  • establishing the age and identity of sex workers and ensuring no-one under 18 is allowed on the premises
  • protecting the privacy of all sex workers.

Procedures should be documented, used in training and made available to people working on the premises where relevant. For example, financial reporting procedures may be relevant to the approved manager if financial management is part of their duties, while OHS procedures will be relevant to all people working on the premises.

More than one licensee

If a brothel is operated by more than one licensee, at least one must be nominated as the licensee in effective control by completing and lodging a Sex work service providers – effective control nomination (Word, 264KB)

This form must be lodged with the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) at least 14 days before any nomination(s) take effect.

Nominating a licensee or licensees to be in effective control does not relieve other licensees of their responsibilities under the Sex Work Act 1994 and Sex Work Regulations 2016.

When the licensee is absent from the brothel

If you are going to be absent for more than seven but less than 30 days, you must, at least five working days in advance, complete and lodge a Sex work service providers absence of licensee (Word, 629 KB)

You can nominate a brothel manager or another licensee to be in effective control while you are absent.

If you are going to be absent for more than 30 days, you must nominate a licensee or an approved manager to be in effective control during that time. You must, at least 14 working days in advance, complete and lodge a Sex work service providers absence of licensee (Word, 629 KB)

If the BLA is satisfied that the brothel manager or other licensee is capable of managing the business, that person will be approved to be in effective control during the period of absence.

In all cases:

  • you may only nominate someone who does not have an interest in another brothel
  • you may choose to notify the BLA in advance (using the relevant form) of nominees and periods you intend on being absent from your business
  • if your business has more than one licensee and you nominate someone who is not one of those licensees, the BLA will need to be persuaded that there are compelling reasons not to nominate one of the other licensees.

For other queries about complying with effective control requirements, contact us.