There are many different allowances that can be paid in the building and construction industry. These allowances are payments made in addition to an employee’s base rate of pay and are usually to either compensate an employee for difficult conditions or to reward an employee for additional skills.

What sorts of allowances apply to the building and construction industry?

Building and construction industry allowances are usually one of three types:

  • Travel associated with on-site work.
  • Specific conditions or disadvantages associated with the worksite.
  • Additional skills that may be required to perform certain types of work.

Travel allowance

If an employee has to travel as part of their on-site work, generally they will be eligible to receive a travel allowance. The allowance is generally paid to compensate the employee for the expense or inconvenience of the extra travel; the amount depends on the distance travelled. Travel allowance is usually not paid if an employer provides or offers free transport from the employee’s home to work and return.

From 1 July 2020, under the Building Award, if an employer provides a fully maintained vehicle free of charge, travel allowances are usually no longer payable in this situation.

Full details of any travel allowances will be included in your industrial instrument.

Example: travel allowance and prefabricated work

Simone is an employee of a construction company and is employed under the Building Award. After 1 July 2020, Simone is required to perform prefabricated work in an open yard and is then required to erect or fix on-site. Simone is unsure if she is entitled to receive the travel allowance provided in the Building Award.

The Building Award provides that the travel allowance is payable to the employee for each day worked when the employee starts and finishes work on a construction site, or is required to perform prefabricated work in an open yard and is then required to erect or fix on-site. On the above facts, Simone would be entitled to the travel allowance.

Allowances in specific conditions

Building and construction employees work under a variety of conditions. This can sometimes mean having to work in situations that are less comfortable or more dangerous than usual. This may include working:

  • at heights
  • in bad weather including extreme cold, hot weather or wet conditions
  • in dirty conditions.

Some instruments provide allowances for working in these types of conditions.

Some special conditions included in the Building Award before 1 July 2020, have been removed and compensated by a higher industry allowance. For more information, employers and employees should check the Building Award.

Allowances for additional skills

Some jobs require that you gain additional trade skills or qualifications, or have a high level of experience in a particular area. In these instances, an employee may be entitled to receive an allowance to recognise their additional skills or qualifications.

Full details of any allowances payable for additional skills or qualifications will be included in your industrial instrument.