Moves afoot to tighten deadline for building-code compliance

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Moves afoot to tighten deadline for building-code compliance

The federal government has introduced a bill that will drastically shorten the period for Enterprise Agreements (EAs) made before 2 December 2016 to be National Building Code-compliant.

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The government yesterday introduced a bill that will drastically shorten the period for Enterprise Agreements (EAs) made before 2 December 2016 to be National Building Code-compliant.

The date has been pulled back from 29 November 2018 to 1 September 2017.

EAs made after 2 December 2016 will continue to be subject to the code.
 
While the bill has yet to become law, the government has reportedly won cross-bench support for the amendment.
 
Given this will result in a substantial shortening of the compliance period, building industry participants should move swiftly to secure code-compliant EAs prior to 1 September 2017.

Why do I need to comply?


On 2 December 2016 the Australian government re-established the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and released a new building code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Code).

All employers who are performing Commonwealth-funded building work must ensure they are compliant with the code now (for newly-made EAs) or by 29 November 2018 (for EAs made before 2 December 2016).
 
If employers do not meet these requirements they cannot perform building work on projects that are either directly or indirectly funded by the federal government.

What does the code require?

 
The code includes strict provisions in relation to compliance with (among other things):
  • right of entry laws for union officials
  • freedom of association requirements in relation to protecting the rights of workers to join (or not joined) a union
  • work health and safety laws
  • obligations to not engage in sham contracting, and
  • security of payment laws.
EAs that are made from 2 December 2016 onwards must comply with the code in order to be to be eligible to be awarded Commonwealth-funded work.
 
For current EAs made prior to 2 December 2016, building industry participants have until 29 November 2018 to ensure their EAs are compliant with the code.
 
Non-compliance with the code means that companies may lose access to Commonwealth-funded building work.

Who assesses compliance with the code?

 
The ABCC assesses EAs for consistency with the code.

What happens to the previous building code?

 
The obligations in the previous Building Code 2013 continue to apply to Commonwealth-funded building work where expressions of interest or tenders were issued prior to 2 December 2016.

What do I need to do?

 
If you operate in the building industry and wish to participate in Commonwealth-funded building work, you must take steps as early as possible to review your current or proposed EAs for compliance with the code.

Authors: Luis Izzo is a specialist employment and industrial relations lawyer. He is a director – workplace relations, Australian Business Lawyers & Advisors. Sina Mostafavi has practiced as a specialist workplace relations lawyer since 2007 and holds a master of laws in the field.

Disclosure

Australian Business Laywers & Advisors and WorkplaceInfo are both owned by the New South Wales Business Chamber.

 
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