It has been almost eight months since the Building Code 2016 (the Code) commenced and things are in full swing. As of the 19 July 2017:
- 1,706 agreements and individual clauses have been received for assessment from unions, industry associations and contractors;
- currently assessing about 300 agreements per month and receiving about 170 per month;
- since 2 December 2016, 191 government funded projects have already gone out for tender or expression of interest; and
- 44 projects have already had a head contractor appointed, of which 25 projects have commenced construction.
To tender for and be awarded Commonwealth funded work, contractors must have a Code-compliant agreement from 1 September 2017 unless other transitional arrangements apply – for example, they are covered by a modern award or are exclusively covered by an enterprise agreement made before 25 April 2014 that has not been varied.
The Code has strict right of entry and freedom of association provisions. It also sets out important new rules for health and safety, security of payments, engaging non-citizens or non-residents and the use of building materials that comply with relevant Australian standards. For example, a failure to comply with State and Territory safety laws and Commonwealth migration laws is taken to be a failure to comply with the Code and may result in an exclusion sanction for undertaking Commonwealth funded work.
To ensure the ABCC is able to effectively seek exclusion sanctions the ABCC is liaising with relevant State, Territory and Commonwealth agencies. This will enable the ABCC, where appropriate, to take steps towards a sanction under the Code when we become aware that a contractor has contravened one of these laws.
The ABCC has already commenced a robust compliance program to ensure contractors are complying with their legislative obligations. These site inspections and audits conducted by our investigators aim to identify non-compliant behaviour, put the onus on contractors to rectify non-compliant behaviours, and, where rectification cannot be achieved, seek exclusion sanctions from the Minister for Employment.
Ultimately the aim of our compliance program is to ensure that contactors establish measures to avoid industrial relations issues that delay projects, prevent breaches of the law and Code and effect gradual cultural change on building sites.