Australian Building and Construction Inspectors (ABC Inspectors) are appointed under the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act). ABC Inspectors have powers which can be exercised for the following purposes (called “compliance purposes”):
- ascertaining whether the BCIIP Act, designated building laws (which include Commonwealth industrial instruments relating to building work) and the Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Code) are being or have been complied with in relation to a building matter1
- ascertaining whether a court order relating the BCIIP Act, a designated building law or the Code has been, or is being complied with by a building industry participant.
The powers of ABC Inspectors include the power to enter premises, conduct interviews, inspect documents and seek the production of documents.
ABC Inspectors can investigate matters concerning:
- the Code
- wages and entitlements
- sham contracting
- freedom of association
- right of entry requirements
- workplace rights and adverse action
- industrial action
What can their powers be used for?
ABC Inspectors can only exercise their powers and functions in relation to a building matter. A building matter is one that involves any of the following:
- a building employee
- a building employer
- a building contractor
- a person who enters into a contract with a building contractor to engage in building work
- a building association
- a representative of a building association.
Attempting to obstruct, hinder, intimidate or resist an ABC inspector performing their functions may be a civil or criminal offence.
ABC Inspectors may, without force:
- enter premises, provided they reasonably believe the BCIIP Act, the Code or any other designated building law applies to building work that is being or has been performed on the premises, or a breach of these laws by a building industry participant has happened or is likely to happen.
- enter business premises if they reasonably believe that there are records or documents (including digital documents) relevant to compliance on the premises or that a person who normally performs work at the business premises has information relevant to compliance.
ABC Inspectors must before or as soon as possible after entering a premises, show their identity card to the appropriate representative if they are at the premises.
While on premises
When an ABC Inspector is on premises they may do any of the following for a compliance purpose:
- inspect any work, process or object
- interview any willing person
- ask someone to tell them who has custody of, or access to, a record or document
- require the person with access to a record or document to hand it over on the spot or within a specific timeframe
- inspect and make copies of any record or document kept on the premises (hardcopy or on computer)
- take samples of any goods or substances in line with the regulations.
Power to ask for a person’s name and address
If an ABC Inspector reasonably believes that a person has contravened certain workplace laws, the ABC Inspector may require a person to tell the ABC Inspector their name and address.
When requiring a person to tell them their name and address, the ABC Inspector must:
- show their identity card
- inform the person that they may break certain workplace laws if they don’t comply with the requirement.
If an ABC Inspector reasonably believes that the name or address given is false, they may require the person to give evidence of its correctness. If the person does not comply with this request and they do not have a reasonable excuse, then the matter may be taken to court and penalties may be imposed.
Need more information?
Contact us directly for more information or advice about your individual circumstances:
- Hotline: 1800 003 338
- Email: enquiry [at] abcc.gov.au
- Website: www.abcc.gov.au
1To learn more about what defines a ‘building industry participant’ and ‘building work’ please refer to the ‘Our jurisdiction’ fact sheet, available at abcc.gov.au/resources.