Employer Alert: New Deadline for Building Code Compliance

Employers seeking to undertake Commonwealth funded building and construction work will be required to ensure that their enterprise agreements comply with the 2016 Building Code by 31 August 2017 under a new Bill introduced in Federal Parliament.

The Code for Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (the 2016 Code) requires all building contractors to comply with the 2016 Code before they are able to perform work on Commonwealth funded building projects. The 2016 Code requirements include:

  • having a workplace relations management plan;
  • prohibiting sham contracting and collusive practices; and
  • managing drug and alcohol issues in the workplace.

Importantly, the 2016 Code also prohibits certain clauses from forming part of enterprise agreements including clauses which discriminate against certain employees, limit the number of subcontractors which may be able to work on a particular site or limit freedom of association.

In the past, Fair Work Building and Construction (now the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC)) would review enterprise agreements and determine if they were compliant with the previous 2013 Code. The ABCC is now the review body responsible for determining whether enterprise agreements are compliant with the 2016 Code.

When the 2016 Code commenced on 2 December 2016, enterprise agreements made before this date could be declared compliant but employers had until November 2018 to have their enterprise agreements be compliant with the 2016 Code. Changes introduced by the Building and Constructing Industry (Improving Productivity) Amendment Bill 2017 by the Federal Government last week mean that:

  • Employers with non-complying enterprise agreements will now be required to have their enterprise agreements compliant with the 2016 Code by the end of August 2017; and

  • Employers which had complying enterprise agreements may submit for tenders but will not be awarded contracts without having an enterprise agreement compliant with the 2016 Code.

Failure to meet compliance the 2016 Code could cost employers significantly in lost tenders. Accordingly, employers in the building and construction industry should begin their enterprise agreement review process as soon as possible. 

Shane Koelmeyer is a leading workplace relations lawyer and Director at Workplace Law. Workplace Law is a specialist law firm providing employers with legal advice, training and representation in all aspects of workplace relations, employment-related matters and WH&S.

02 9256 7500 | sydney@workplacelaw.com.au

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