During 2013-14, FWBC received 2,710 enquiries. This figure is similar to previous years, although some variation has occurred due to a change in the way hotline calls are recorded. Sixty seven per cent of enquiries were received via the 1800 hotline service. The hotline has been widely publicised and is well known in the industry. Thirteen per cent of calls went directly to individual investigators. This indicates that these calls are generated from industry participants who have had prior contact with the FWBC either through investigations carried out by the agency, educational visits or prior interaction with the agency.

The past financial year saw a gradual increase in email and online enquiries. This may be attributed to the removal of the complaints form from the FWBC website and its replacement with a simple enquiry form. The complaints form was largely used for wage and entitlements matters and requested a significant amount of information. It is possible it acted as a deterrent for industry participants.

Table 2.1 demonstrates the origins of enquiries received by FWBC during 2013-14.

Issues Raised By Enquiries

A single enquiry can often involve a number of issues. Table 2.2 shows a breakdown of the issues that were raised through enquiries during the year.

During 2013-14, the highest number of enquiries FWBC received related to Building Code matters. This is a shift from last year where wage and entitlement enquiries were more prominent. FWBC still receives a large number of wage and entitlement enquiries; however since December 2013 these are now generally treated as informal referrals to FWO and FWBC’s involvement is minimal. Enquiries concerning right of entry and coercion have more than doubled in the last financial year.

Table 2.1 Number and Method of Enquiry
Enquiry 2012 to 13 2013 to 14
FWBC Hotline 972 1,841
Direct Enquiry to FWBI Investigator 256 359
FWBC Website 148 221
FWBC Email 124 160
Workplace Complaint Form 27 16
FWO AVR Process 25 11
Mail 7 19
Fax 2 0
Other 96 83
Total 1,657 2,710

 

 

Table 2.2 Issues Raised By Enquiries
Enquiry Issues 2012 to 13 2013 to 14
Wages and entitlements 333 537
Agreements 24 42
Building Code or code compliance 212 674
Coercion 28 73
Discrimination 9 12
Domestic Building 54 158
Fair Work Act General Protections 165 114
Freedom of Association 39 51
General FWBC Information 230 264
Independent contractor 115 95
Industrial action 138 152
Licensing / permits 6 83
OHS 33 149
Other 136 232
Other Federal Agency 92 111
Other State Agency 47 63
Right of entry 81 230
Strike Pay 9 7
Targeted Audit 12 1
Union behaviour 83 92
Unfair Dismissal 0 19
Total 1,846 3,159

 

 

Table 2.3 Enquiry Outcomes
Enquiry Outcomes 2012 to 13 2013 to 14
Information provided 973 1,450
Referred to other Agency 35 37
Referred to Federal Agency 152 578
Referred to State Agency 82 256
Unable to provide assistance 57 37
Upgrade to investigation 351 331
Initiated Targeted Audit 7 16
Upgrade to Code Activity 0 1
Presentation Requested 0 4
Total 1,657 2,710

Activities Generated By Enquiries

Table 2.3 sets out the outcome of enquiries. In 54% of cases FWBC answered the enquiry through the provision of information, which is similar to previous years. As at 30 June 2014, 12% of enquiries led to a formal investigation being initiated and 32% of enquiries were referred to another agency.

Table 2.4 Informal Referrals
Informal Referrals 2012 to 13 2013 to 14
State agencies: domestic building; licensing 39 102
Code assessment 36 131
OHS agencies 17 104
Workplace agencies: wages; unlawful or unfair employment 10 22
FWO 79 390
Long Service Leave 9 4
Subcontractors’ payment (subject to state law), riggers, crane licensing 14 23
Australian Apprenticeships Referral Line 8 7
Employer associations 3 14
Australian Tax Office (ATO) 7 10
Fair Work Commission (FWC) 0 29
Police 0 4
Union 0 0
Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) 2 1
Other 45 30
Total 269 871

Informal Referrals

Enquiries that are beyond FWBC’s jurisdiction are categorised as informal if they are referred before an investigation has started.

Table 2.4 sets out details of the informal referrals FWBC made to 30 June 2014.

In 2013-14, FWBC referred 871 enquiries to other state and federal agencies during the reporting period. These matters were either clearly outside of FWBC’s jurisdiction or could have been better handled by another agency. This number is now trending higher than in previous years due to the removal of the IVR facility from the 1800 hotline service. All calls are now answered directly by an investigator. This means that a large number of callers would have previously self-selected a referral option rather than have that process managed by an investigator.

Formal Referrals

As at 30 June 2014, 42 formal referrals had been made. Twenty of these were similar to last year, however an additional 21 were referrals of information to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). These referrals relate to the checking of 457 visa matters that were part of a joint project with DIBP. This project involved FWBC checking on visa holders as part of a normal site visit. As a result of this process, 21 cases were identified where employees were employed under 457 visa arrangements and in every case the visa conditions in relation to wages and employment category had been met.

Table 2.5 Formal Referrals
Formal Referrals 2012 to 13 2013 to 14
FWO 1 7
ASIC 0 2
ATO: regarding non-payment or underpayment of superannuation 8 5
Workcover NSW: regarding workplace health and safety issues 1 1
QLD office state revenue 1 0
Magistrates’ Court of Victoria – Small Claims Tribunal (Industrial Division) 1 0
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 0 2
Australian Federal Police 0 1
Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution 0 2
Referrals to DIBP – 457 Visa Monitoring 0 21
Long Service Leave Corporation 0 1
Total 12 42