What is required?

  1. Commonwealth funded projects that meet the funding thresholds stipulated in Schedule 2 of the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (the Code) are required to have a Workplace Relations Management Plan (WRMP).
  2. Section 32(2)(a) of the Code states that a proposed WRMP must include a fitness for work policy to manage alcohol and other drugs in the workplace. It must address the matters set out in Schedule 4, which includes (at Item 6) that frequent and periodic testing of a minimum number of workers onsite must occur.
  3. Section 34(2) provides that a failure by a head contractor to comply with its WRMP is a breach of the Code.

What we did

  1. In March 2019, the ABCC launched the fitness for work education and compliance campaign by promoting the upcoming audit to building industry participants. This promotion intended to raise industry awareness of fitness for work requirements in the Code and seek self-rectification where appropriate.
  2. The ABCC commenced an audit program on projects to which an ABCC-approved WRMP applied. This sought to assess whether head contractors were meeting the drug and alcohol testing requirements stipulated in Schedule 4 of the Code.
  3. The audit included large and small-sized head contractors engaged on projects in Victoria, NSW, ACT, QLD, SA, Tasmania and WA. Projects were of varying size, from an average of less than 20 workers to over 100 workers on site per day.

Findings

Observations

The ABCC identified that 16% of head contractors had been using a WRMP on the project that had not been approved by the ABCC. No breaches of the Code were identified in these instances. However, head contractors were advised that onsite compliance with an ABCC-approved WRMP would ensure Code breaches were avoided.

Outcomes

The ABCC sought voluntary rectification from head contractors alleged to have breached the Code. Rectification measures included:

  • Undertaking further education and training of relevant staff regarding drug and alcohol testing requirements in the Code.
  • Notifying relevant staff of the Code breach and reconfirming the contractor’s expectations regarding drug and alcohol testing.
  • Updating company procedures and policies to make clear that random testing of minimum numbers of workers should occur separately from, and in addition to other types of testing (high-risk, for-cause or pre-employment).
  • Committing to meet drug and alcohol testing requirements in the Code in future.

The ABCC will continue to monitor contractor compliance with fitness for work policies through future compliance activities.

Further information

For all head contractor Code obligations, including WRMP requirements, visit https://www.abcc.gov.au/building-code/contractors/.