Education activities

Enquiries

During 2015–16, FWBC received 3,564 enquiries. This is an increase of 17% on the number of enquiries in the previous reporting year, which continues the increasing trend in overall requests for information.

The majority of enquiries FWBC receives come through the 1800 hotline service. The hotline is promoted throughout the industry and widely known. Of the calls received in the reporting period, 97% were answered within 60 seconds. There was a marked increase in the number of enquiries received through online channels, continuing the trend in 2014–15.

Table 1 shows the number of enquiries and the method by which they were received.

#Table 1: Number and method of enquiries

Method of enquiry

2014–15

2015–16

FWBC hotline

2,243

2,285

Direct enquiry to FWBC investigator

390

421

FWBC website

121

197

Email – Building Code reporting inbox

15

104

Email – other

97

355

Referrals from other agencies

113

98

Mail

15

48

Fax

3

0

Other

38

56

Total

3,035

3,564

Issues raised by enquiries

Table 2 (overleaf) shows a breakdown of the issues that were raised through enquiries during the year. Where an enquiry involves more than one type of issue, only the issue most central to the enquiry is recorded, meaning that each enquiry is counted only once.

The Building Code was the most common topic in 2015–16, with these enquiries more than doubling the number in the previous reporting period. This increase reflects the effectiveness of FWBC's renewed focus on educating the industry about the Building Code, the newly introduced drug and alcohol requirements, and FWBC's new responsibility for assessing enterprise agreements for compliance with the Building Code – a role formerly undertaken by the Department of Employment.

#Table 2: Issues raised by enquiries

Issue raised

2014–15

2015–16

Building Code or Code compliance

656

1,344

Right of entry

330

397

FWBC information and activities

330

212

Industrial action

200

180

Coercion

124

126

Freedom of association

61

95

Contractual disputes

71

59

Strike pay

12

17

Criminal

20

8

Discrimination

10

0

Other workplace laws

619

501

Other laws

408

386

Other

194

239

Total

3,035

3,564

Activities generated by enquiries

Table 3 sets out the outcome of enquiries. As with previous years, in most cases the outcome of an enquiry is the provision of information.

#Table 3: Enquiry outcomes

Enquiry outcome

2014–15

2015–16

Information provided

1,221

1,909

Referred to Federal agency

854

742

Referred to State agency

338

338

Information recorded – no further action

196

268

Upgrade to investigation

266

197

Referred to other agency

53

37

Unable to provide assistance

68

22

Upgrade to Building Code activity

7

22

Presentation requested

21

21

Upgrade to legal

11

8

Total

3,035

3,564

Referrals

FWBC can refer enquirers to other agencies in respect of matters that are either clearly outside FWBC's jurisdiction or are better suited for response by another agency. These enquiries are recorded as informal, as no detailed follow-up is anticipated beyond the original referral to the relevant agency.

Informal referrals demonstrate the contribution that FWBC makes to assisting industry participants with various enquiries. Of the enquirers referred to federal agencies, 354 referrals were made to the Fair Work Ombudsman and 285 to the Department of Employment, in respect of Building Code assessments. Of the enquirers referred to state agencies, 206 were referred to relevant state domestic building and licensing agencies, and 46 referrals were made in respect of WHS or WorkCover issues. The rate of informal referrals to the Department of Employment in respect of Building Code assessments is expected to decrease in the next financial year now that the role of assessing agreements against the Building Code 2013 has been transferred to FWBC.

Formal referrals are made where FWBC has no jurisdiction on a matter, or where another agency is better placed to address issues identified in the course of FWBC work. These referrals are more detailed than informal referrals, in that information already gathered in the course of FWBC work is provided to the receiving agency. FWBC referred one potential wages and entitlements breach to FWO and one suspected illegal immigration matter to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in the 2015–16 reporting period. A further two referrals, of potential safety breaches, were made to the relevant state WHS authority.

Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption

A total of 16 matters were referred to FWBC by the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption in accordance with section 6P of the Royal Commissions Act 1902. Each of these referrals was assessed to determine whether any breaches of the Fair Work Act2009 (FW Act) had been committed. At the end of the reporting year, six referrals remained under investigation, with the remainder closed.

Presentations

In 2015–16, FWBC conducted 187 presentations to a total of 2,984 attendees. The number of presentations and attendees increased from 2014–15 by 65 presentations and almost 1,200 attendees. The numbers are given in Table 4.

FWBC investigators and senior executives regularly deliver presentations to industry participants, including industry associations, employers, lawyers and workers. The presentations include information about participants' rights and responsibilities, including those under the Building Code. FWBC conducts general presentations, as well as specifically tailored presentations as requested. In the reporting year, presentations delivered by investigators focused particularly on new entrants to the industry, through cooperation with TAFEs and registered training organisations. The aim was to educate the industry at the first opportunity, and provide information and sources of advice for the future.

Site visits

In 2015–16, FWBC investigators conducted 1,372 site visits.

The site visits were predominantly initiated by FWBC for the purposes of explaining to industry participants the agency's role and the assistance it can provide, and to promote better understanding of industry participants' rights and responsibilities.

The number of site visits in the 2015–16 reporting year is comparable to levels across recent years, increasing by 82 on the previous financial year.

Table 5 provides a national overview of site visits. During 2015–16, Western Australia remained the state with the most site visits, accounting for almost a third. Significant increases in site visits also occurred in the Northern Territory and Queensland. Site visits decreased in Tasmania, following an increased focus on undertaking investigations, and also in South Australia as investigations undertaken in the previous financial year reached court, and local resources were directed accordingly.

Pursuant to a memorandum of understanding between FWBC and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, FWBC investigators monitor compliance with a number of requirements for Temporary Work (Skilled) (subclass 457) visa holders who work in the commercial building and construction industry. Investigators perform this function in the course of regular compliance activities such as site visits. In the reporting year, FWBC referred outcomes of subclass 457 visa monitoring to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection on 19 occasions.

#Table 4: Presentations and attendee numbers

Presentations/Attendees

2014–15

2015–16

Presentations

122

187

Attendees

1,793

2,984

#Table 5: National site visits

State

2014–15

2015–16

NSW

150

194

VIC

180

196

QLD

18

123

WA

325

413

SA

205

99

TAS

257

84

ACT

41

65

NT

114

198

TOTAL

1,290

1,372

Communicating to industry

Media activity

FWBC recognises the vital role the media plays in informing industry participants of FWBC's activities, explaining key outcomes, and improving understanding of Australian workplace laws.

FWBC issues media releases detailing allegations contained in statements of claim for new legal proceedings, as well as for finalised litigation. FWBC also provides media statements and E-Alerts on current issues in the building and construction industry, and information on new FWBC initiatives. All FWBC media releases are available on the agency's website in the ‘News and Media' section. E-Alerts are short, issue-specific articles on emerging and topical matters in the building and construction industry, sent to industry participants on FWBC's subscriber list.

FWBC distributes Industry Update, a free e-newsletter available to subscribe to via FWBC's website. Subscribers are kept up to date with FWBC's latest activities and are provided with information about industry trends and issues, including workplace disputes and industrial action.

In this financial year, FWBC issued 58 media releases, seven E-Alerts and sent out six Industry Update newsletters.

Table 6 shows the number of media activities compared with the previous reporting period.

#Table 6: Media activity

Type of activity

2014–15

2015–16

Media releases issued

40

58

E-Alerts

not reported

15

Industry Update newsletters issued

7

6