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Managing Tradies – Challenges In The Construction Industry

Published August 31, 2017 (last updated June 25, 2020) Author: Employsure
2 Tradies having lunch

With its reliance on casual labour, strict legislation and challenging safety regulations, employers in the construction industry are regular users of Employsure’s services. Making up 15% of Employsure’s client base, employers in the construction industry were provided with thousands of advice calls from us in 2016. In my role as a Senior Advisor, I’ve found four main issues coming up again and again for employers in this industry.

Engagement of workers.

The construction industry has  several unique challenges for employers, the first being the necessity of hiring flexible workers. With much construction work being project based, employers often want the commitment of a permanent employee, with the flexibility of a casual employee. This unique relationship creates a number of issues for both parties.

The most common question that employers in the construction industry raise with Employsure is  regarding the rules and regulations surrounding hiring casual and daily hire staff.

Employers are right to be concerned about this issue, permanent employees and contractors have very different entitlements and it’s important that employers ensure they have defined the employment relationship correctly.

This article provides an overview of how employers can distinguish between permanent and casual employees. For tailored advice, employers should contact Employsure on 1300 651 415 for advice which considers all the workplace factors.

Safety is key

Safety is always a major concern for employers in the construction industry. Employsure has a team of consultants  constantly checking in with clients, asking – Have your employees obtained the correct industry cards that qualify them for the type of work they do – such as a white or green card? Can you demonstrate that all of your employees know how to safely operate their tools? And what measures are in place that ensure employees can work safely at heights?

It is essential for employers in the construction industry to continually review, train and document safe practices for workers to ensure a safe workplace , and mitigate the risk against worker’s compensation claims and investigations from WorkSafe.

Along with the transport, warehousing and agriculture industries, construction is a high-risk industry, accounting for 30 workplace fatalities in 2016, and another 18 already in 2017. Read more statistics on the cost of an unsafe workplace in this infographic.

Documentation should be in the form of relevant work health safety policies, processes for recording incidents and near miss incidents with regular reviews and communication with employees.

Industry specific schemes.

Clients of Employsure in the construction industry regularly raise two industry specific challenges.

  • Construction specific redundancy payments may apply when ending the employment relationship with staff, even if no official redundancy has occurred. To assist with managing this business expense, there are a number of funds that businesses can opt to contribute to that assist in planning for this liability, should it arise. Employsure prepare clients for the potential for this payment.
  • Construction employers need to be aware they may be required to contribute to a state-based long service leave scheme, and in some cases are legally obliged to register their employees. Employsure advises clients on how to meet these obligations after conducting a full review of their business practices

Enterprise Agreements.

Enterprise Agreements are common in the construction industry, and may be requested prior to sending employees on to certain worksites. Construction companies who are already operating under Enterprise Agreements should be mindful of compliance with the Building Code of 2016 that can be a requirement of certain projects.

Businesses need to be aware of their obligations in this area to ensure effective communication with all parties onsite. This article provides an overview of Enterprise Agreements but employers should contact Employsure for tailored advice.

The unique challenges of the construction industry keep Employsure’s expert advisers busy, but I am passionate about ensuring each employer receives the assistance they need to succeed.

About Employsure

Employsure is Australia’s largest workplace relations specialists. We take the complexity out of workplace laws to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

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