During 2014 to 15 FWBC received 3,035 enquiries. This is an increase of 10% on the number of enquiries in the previous year, and continues the increasing trend in overall requests for information.

The majority of enquiries FWBC receives increasingly come through the 1800 hotline service. This channel has seen a 21% increase in volume over the last financial year, with 98% of calls answered within 60 seconds.

Approximately 13% of callers contacted FWBC investigators directly, as opposed to using the 1800 hotline service. These callers are generally those who have used FWBC services in the past or those who have ongoing issues requiring advice or assistance from the agency.

Issues raised by enquiries

Table 2.2 shows a breakdown of the issues that were raised through enquiries during the year. Each enquiry is counted only once. Where an enquiry involves more than one type of issue the type of issue most central to the enquiry is recorded.

The marked increase in certain types of enquiry reflects the shift in FWBC’s core business focus. Enquiries about issues of coercion are up 70%, with industrial action up 32% and right of entry up 43%. Enquiries relating to the Building Code remain high.

Enquiries about wages and entitlements continue to decline significantly due to these matters now being handled by the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO).

Table 2.1 Number and Method of Enquiry
Method 2013 - 14 2014 - 15
FWBC hotline 1,841 2,243
Direct enquiry to FWBC investigator 359 390
FWBC website 221 121
Referrals Data not captured 113
FWBC email 160 112
Other 94 38
Workplace Complaint Form 16 Form discontinued in 2014 to 15
Mail 19 15
Fax 0 3
Total 2,710 3,035
Table 2.2 Issues raised by Enquiries
Issue raised 2013 - 14 2014 - 15
Building Code or Code compliance 674 656
Workplace laws other 693 619
Other laws 564 408
FWBC information and activities 265 330
Right of Entry 230 330
Industrial action 152 200
Other 232 194
Coercion 73 124
Contractual disputes 3
Freedom of association 51 61
Criminal 20
Strike pay 7 12
Discrimination 12 10
Union behaviour 92 Data not captured
Fair Work Act general protections 114 0
Total 3159 3035

Activities generated by enquiries

Table 2.3 sets out the outcome of enquiries. As with previous years, in most cases the outcome of an enquiry is the provision of information. The number of enquiries upgraded to investigations dropped slightly, while the number of enquiries upgraded to Building Code activity increased. There were large increases in referrals to Federal and State agencies, which is reflective of 2014 to 15 being the first full year of focusing on core business matters and utilising more efficient referral processes. There was also a significant increase in requests for presentations.

Table 2.3 Enquiry Outcomes
Outcome 2013 - 14 2014 - 15
Information provided 1,450 1,221
Referred to Federal agency 578 854
Referred to State agency 256 338
Upgrade to investigation 331 266
Information recorded – no further action Data not captured 196
Unable to provide assistance 37 68
Referred to other agency 37 53
Presentation requested 4 21
Upgrade to legal Data not captured 11
Upgrade to Building Code activity 1 7
Upgrade to targeted audit 16 0
Total 2,710 3 ,035

Informal referrals

FWBC can refer enquiries as a result of agreements it has with other agencies. These enquiries 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 to State agencies increased significantly by 96%, as did those for Building Code assessment which increased by 110%. In turn, another significant area for informal referrals, those to Work Health and Safety (WHS) agencies, decreased significantly from last financial year.

The largest number of informal referrals went to FWO. In the past, a high number of calls coming to the FWBC hotline relating to wages and entitlement matters resulted in an option being added to the FWBC hotline allowing a caller to be transferred directly to FWO if their call related specifically to wages and entitlements. The provision of this option reduces the amount of FWBC resources that are devoted to recording matters which are not of relevance to FWBC core business. FWO received 38% of the volume of informal referrals made by FWBC, up 22% on the previous financial year.

The total number of informal referrals in 2014 to 15 was 1,245, showing an increase of 43% from the previous financial year. Table 2.4 sets out the details of informal referrals.

Table 2.4 Informal Referrals
Referral organisation 2013 - 14 2014 - 15
FWO 390 474
Building Code assessment 131 275
State agencies: domestic building; licensing 102 200
WHS agencies: safety; WHS training cards ‘red’; etc. 104 56
FWC 29 52
Subcontractors’ payment (subject to state law), riggers, crane licensing 23 46
Other 30 41
Other Federal agency Data not captured 29
Australian Tax Office (ATO) 10 18
Long service leave 4 18
Workplace agencies: wages; unlawful or unfair employment 22 14
Employer associations 14 11
Police 4 5
Australian Apprenticeships Referral Line 7 3
Australian Securities and Investments Commission 1 3
Union 0 0
Total 871 1,245

Formal referrals

As at 30 June 2015, 13 formal referrals had been made to other agencies. The number of referrals is lower than in previous years.

Formal referrals are made where FWBC has no jurisdiction on a matter, or where another agency was better placed to address issues identified through 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.

Table 2.5 Formal Referrals
Formal Referral 2013 - 14 2014 - 15
FWO 7 4
ASIC 2 3
ATO: regarding non-payment or underpayment of superannuation 5 2
Australian Competition and Consumer Commission 2 2
Police 1 1
Australian Financial Security Authority 0 1
Workcover NSW regarding workplace health and safety issues 1 0
CDPP 2 0
Department of Immigration and Border Protection – 457 visa monitoring 21 0
Long Service Leave Corporation 1 0
Total 2,710 3,035

Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption

Since the Royal Commission was established in March 2014, FWBC has referred just over 125 matters relevant to the Royal Commission Terms of Reference. Matters range in date from 2006 to present. The Royal Commission has requested further information in relation to approximately 50% of the matters referred.