What to expect from an investigation

The Investigation Process

Australian Building and Construction Inspectors conduct investigations to determine whether there has been a contravention of Commonwealth workplace laws, including the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 and the Fair Work Act 2009.

Investigations usually commence after a complaint is made to us. However, sometimes an investigation might commence after obtaining information from our audits of particular workplaces or industries, without anyone having made a complaint.

Inspectors will initially seek to obtain evidence to determine whether a contravention has occurred. As part of this process, inspectors will usually contact relevant employers and employees to ask for more information, relevant records and documents. If we don't get this information in a reasonable time, an inspector may visit the workplace to obtain this information, or issue a notice requiring a person to produce records and documents.

Inspectors will also obtain any necessary evidence from relevant third parties, and seek to interview persons who have information relevant to the investigation. In limited circumstances, where a person has information relevant to the investigation, the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner may seek to issue a notice requiring that person to attend an examination and answer questions.

Inspectors will review all evidence obtained during an investigation to determine whether there has been a contravention of Commonwealth workplace laws.

Australian Building and Construction Inspectors are invested with discretion to make determinations about the process or outcome of an investigation. An inspector will determine the best course of action dependent upon the specific circumstances of each investigation.

Outcomes of an Investigation

If an inspector determines that a contravention of Commonwealth workplace laws has occurred, there are a number of possible actions which might be taken, including:

  • the issue of a compliance notice, requiring a person to take action to remedy the contravention;
  • the giving of an enforceable undertaking by the wrongdoer;
  • the commencement of legal action against the wrongdoer, which may result in penalties being imposed; or
  • the issuing of a letter of caution

You can read more about these actions on our Investigation Outcomes page.

What if legal action is taken?

If we decide to take legal action against the wrongdoer, you might have to give evidence in court as a witness. If this happens, we will inform you in advance and help you prepare.

What if the problems still aren't fixed?

If you have made a complaint but the issues have not been resolved, we can tell you what legal options may be available to you. However, we cannot provide you with legal advice.

What we can’t do

We don’t have the power to order a wrongdoer to pay compensation, or to give a job back.

If we investigate a complaint and the matter goes to court, we can seek penalties against the wrongdoer. The court decides on penalties to be paid or other orders the wrongdoer must follow. These other orders can include paying compensation or giving a job back.


Matters we can’t investigate include:

  • unfair dismissal
  • general bullying and harassment
  • discrimination that is not workplace related.

Please see our Network of Organisations page for links to other organisations that may be able to help. Where a matter arises from a complaint which we cannot investigate, we may refer you to one of these organisations.    


Need more information?

For further information, advice or assistance please contact the ABCC at 1800 003 338 or enquiry [at] abcc.gov.au.