Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Act 2012

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1 June 2012

Schedule 1 of The Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Act 2012 (Cth) (New Act) has commenced today, 1 June 2012. It amends the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Act 2005 (Cth) (BCII Act).

The New Act has made considerable changes to the BCII Act which will affect employers in the building and construction industry and the operation of their businesses.

In summary, these include:

  • the abolition of the office of the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner and creation of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate;
  • retention of coercive powers by The Director of Inspectorate but safeguards are imposed;
  • the use of coercive powers to be sunsetted at 3 years and a decision whether to extend those powers will be made at that time;
  • the role of Independent Assessor has been introduced with power to make determinations that the coercive powers be switched off in respect of projects in which building work commences after the commencement of the new Act;
  • the Fair Work Act will apply unchanged to workers in the building industry;
  • removal of higher penalties for building industry participants for breaches of industrial law and broader circumstances under which industrial action attracts penalties; and
  • preventing the Inspectorate from prosecuting building workers when the parties have settled or discontinued matters.

The Bill represents the Government’s response to the report provided by the Hon Murray Wilcox QC titled ‘Transition to Fair Work Australia for the Building and Construction Industry’. In an explanatory statement issued by the Federal Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations, the commencement of Schedule 1 was delayed until 1 June 2012 “to facilitate a smooth transition to the new building and construction industry legislation and to provide sufficient time for the Office of the Fair Work Building Industry Inspectorate to be established.”

A detailed discussion of the New Act and the implications for employers can be accessed via the following link: Farewell to the ABCCChanges to Regulation of the Building and Construction Industry.

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On 21 March 2012, the Senate passed the Building and Construction Industry Improvement Amendment (Transition to Fair Work) Bill 2011. The Bill will come into operation when it receives Royal Assent.
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