The new Victorian Code of Practice for the Building and Construction Industry 2014 (Victorian Code) came into effect on 8 October 2014.
A contractor becomes subject to the Victorian Code from the date that it expresses interest in or tenders for on-site building and construction works for the Victorian Government. From that date, the contractor also becomes subject to the Victorian Code in respect of any subsequent privately funded building work that it undertakes. Any related entity of the contractor also becomes subject to the Victorian Code at the same time as the contractor.
Key factors include:
- freedom of association – any agreement, arrangement, practice or procedure which does not promote freedom of association is inconsistent with the Victoria Code. This includes prohibiting the display of “no ticket, no start” signs, providing the names of new staff to unions except as required by law, and refusing to employ an individual because of their union status;
- right of entry – a participant must not invite a union official onto the site, and the entry of a union official onto a site must be in accordance with Part 3-4 of the Fair Work Act 2009 and any applicable health and safety laws;
- a participant must take reasonable steps to resolve industrial action, and prevent or bring an end to unprotected action. Any threatened or actual industrial action must also be reported to the client and the compliance unit within 24 hours;
- contractors must implement site security and risk management procedures to maintain the integrity of the site, such as CCTV monitoring and security swipe cards;
- contractors must have an approach to managing drug and alcohol issues in the workplace to ensure that no person entering the site is under the influence;
- for projects over $10 million, tenderers must submit a compliant Workplace Relations Management Plan (WRMP), and the successful tenderer must submit a compliant Health and Safety Management Plan. A WRMP must include a fitness for work policy to manage drugs and alcohol, including random and objective medical testing, and counselling and rehabilitation for positive test results.
When bidding for Victorian Government projects, contractors are required to self-assess and submit a declaration regarding whether their workplace arrangements, agreements, practices and procedures comply. Head contractors must also ensure that their subcontractors have submitted a signed self-assessment declaration.
The Victorian Code will be monitored by the Construction Code Compliance Unit (CCCU), a division of the Department of Treasury and Finance. The CCCU was responsible for ensuring compliance with the former 1999 Code and Implementation Guidelines. The CCCU will assess the plans submitted during tendering, as well as actively monitor compliance during the construction works through site visits, inspections, and audits.
A contractor must also notify the CCCU within 24 hours of a breach, or a suspected breach, and advise of the steps proposed to be taken to rectify the breach. The CCCU may investigate a breach, and will notify the contractor and seek submissions. The CCCU will report all proven breaches to the Minister for Finance, and may refer alleged breaches of Commonwealth or State legislation to the appropriate statutory bodies.