The Civil Contractors Federation at both a National and State level, has continued with its’ advocacy and representation work to all tiers of Government during the COVID-19 (C-19) Pandemic.
Over the last 2 week period, an important series of engagement sessions have been conducted and announcements made, by both Federal and State Governments, in the easing of C-19 restrictions With the easing of C-19 restrictions and investment announcements made in the Building & Construction sector, including civil, we are continuing our focus to maintain a sustainable pipeline of works to provide confidence in the relevant civil sectors and provide continued employment for workers while mitigating the risk of exposure to C-19 on constructions sites.
The following is a brief summary of our representations made CCF and announcements made since my last update to CCF members and stakeholders, that may impact on your business.
CCF National delegation meet with the Federal Government
Following our recent submission to the Federal Government on the findings of our CCF National survey results, CCF National President, Mick Unger (WA), Vice President, Peter Kendall (Qld), CEO, Chris Melham and Executive Director, Duncan Sheppard, recently met with the Deputy Prime Minister/Minister for Infrastructure Transport and Regional Development, the Hon Michael McCormack and the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure the Hon Alan Tudge.
While discussing the key findings of the CCF National survey, the delegation continued to advocate for monies being brought forward from the Federal Governments 10 year rolling $100 billion infrastructure program, to promote a sustainable pipeline of works and align this to accelerated state government spending on major infrastructure projects as part of their COVID-19 stimulus packages. On Friday, 22 May 2020, the Federal Government announced a $1.3 billion stimulus package which is simply already committed monies being brought forward from the Financial Assistance Grant program. The $500 million is therefore insignificant in terms of the bigger picture and as such, CCF is continuing its call to the Federal Government to inject significantly more money into the sector.
A copy of the CCF National Media Release in relation to this funding announcement is attached for your reference and available electronically via this link: CLICK HERE
Federal Court Ruling – Employees engaged as casual entitled to paid leave & public holidays, with employer unable to set-off paid loading
In a recent decision likely to expose many employers to substantial back-pay claims, a Full Court of the Federal Court has determined that a casual employee was entitled to back pay of leave entitlements and public holidays. This was due to the characteristic of “a firm advance commitment” to offer and accept work and accordingly the employee was found to be a permanent employee, and these entitlements were unable to be set-off against the casual loading which had been incorporated into the employee’s wage.
CCF legal Advisors, Lander & Rogers, discuss the implication of this decision in a recent e-bulletin circulated to their clients. Read more >
No Right to take Sick Leave during C-19 Stand Down Period
In addition, a recent decision in the Federal Court of Australia provides an important interpretation of the stand down provisions in the Fair Work Act and how they apply to sick leave entitlements. Read more > For more details on both these key rulings, contact Cameron Hannebery at Lander & Rogers, or Peter Maguire at Ridgeline HR.
Changes made to Victoria’s restrictions to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19)
The State Government has announced from 1 June, gradual easing of restrictions planned for fitness, personal services, cafes and restaurants, travel and leisure, culture and entertainment.
From 1 June, restrictions on travel within Victoria will be eased. Tourist accommodation, including caravan parks and camping grounds, can open to guests provided there are no shared communal facilities such as kitchen or bathrooms. Restrictions on shopping, retail and personal services will also be eased from this date. Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours can open with up to 20 patrons. Market stalls may open and other retail outlets may continue to operate. In all cases the four square metre rule will apply and a distance of 1.5 metres should be maintained between customers.
Restrictions on entertainment and cultural activities will also be eased. From 11:59 pm on 31 May, outdoor amusement parks and arcades can admit up to 20 customers per separate space while ensuring physical distancing requirements of one person per four square metres is applied and that customers don’t gather in particular high use areas. Then from 22 June cinema complexes, movie theatres, concert venues and outdoor amusement parks can admit up to 50 customers while applying physical distancing requirements.
As previously announced, from 1 June, restaurants, cafes and other hospitality businesses can resume dine-in service for up to 20 patrons while abiding by physical distancing requirements. From 22 June this will increase to 50 patrons per enclosed space. A further increase of up to 100 patrons per enclosed space is planned for the second half of July.
Also from 1 June, up to 20 people can participate in outdoor group sport and exercise activities, provided you can keep your distance and the activity is not competitive. From 22 June indoor sports centres, gyms, health clubs, class fitness studios and venues can be opened with up to 20 people allowed per separate enclosed space, subject to specified physical distancing requirements. Detailed guidelines are being prepared for businesses on how they can operate and these will be made available ahead of restrictions easing. This includes CCF’s work with the Building & Construction Working Group on safety guidelines supporting the transition and easing of restrictions on worksites.
CCF has requested further clarification from the Working Group and DHHS, on transition plans for temperature testing on construction worksites, ie: who is best placed and qualified to undertake this task and what is the best method for accuracy of testing. I will keep members abreast of developments in this regard subsequent to a new version release of the guidelines. Refer link the following link for the latest version of the published guidelines.
For more information on what the easing of restrictions means for respective businesses and for sector-specific guidance and practical advice on hygiene and cleaning, patron numbers, staff and training, compliance and enforcement visit the DHHS website. All employers should continue to provide flexible working arrangements, encourage their employees to work from home where possible, ensure hygiene standards and provide necessary physical distancing in all workplaces.
The supports introduced as part of the Victorian Government’s $1.7 billion Economic Survival Package including the Business Support Fund, Working for Victoria, payroll tax refunds and the night-time economy business support initiative will still be available to all eligible businesses. Businesses needing guidance on dealing with coronavirus (COVID-19) and details on eligibility criteria can check the Business Victoria website business.vic.gov.au or call the Business Victoria coronavirus hotline 13 22 15.
The easing of restrictions will be welcome news to many business owners and you are encouraged to continue to follow the advice of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and the Department of Health and Human Services.
Applications for the $500 million Business Support Fund to close 1 June, 2020
Applications for the $500m Business Support Fund will officially close next Monday and I urge all eligible CCF members to submit their applications ahead of this cut-off date.
Since it launched, the Business Support Fund has helped tens of thousands of Victorian small businesses impacted by restrictions put in place to slow the spread of coronavirus pay important operational costs and help keep people in work. Up until 11.59 pm on Monday 1 June 2020, eligible businesses can still apply for a one-off $10,000 grant through the fund. To be eligible, businesses must already employ staff, have payroll of less than $650,000 and a turnover of more than $75,000.
Full details on eligibility and how to apply are set out on the Business Support Fund webpage business.vic.gov.au/businesssupportfund. The attached fact sheet provides further information about the Victorian Government’s Economic Survival Package.
Businesses needing guidance on dealing with coronavirus can also check the Business Victoria website business.vic.gov.au or call the Business Victoria hotline 13 22 15.
Apprenticeships Support from the State Government
The Victorian Government is helping apprentices and trainees displaced by the C-19 crisis to complete their apprenticeships and training and find work. Minister for Training and Skills and Higher Education Gayle Tierney recently announced the Retrenched Apprentices and Trainees Program – a collaboration with the Apprenticeship Employment Network (AEN), the peak body for group training employers.
The program has set up a register for retrenched apprentices and trainees. It will work actively to encourage impacted apprentices and trainees to sign up and will then assist them to stay engaged with their training and to place them with appropriate employers.
CCF commends this initiative which builds on the Government’s $4.7 million funding to extend the successful Apprenticeship Support Officer program, to continue to support apprentices. A further $43.8 million investment was made to lift the quality of apprenticeships by supporting the introduction of independent assessments, updated learning materials and the reintroduction of trade papers. Employers who have job vacancies for apprentices or trainees can submit a request below via the register and AEN will then match your vacancy with suitable candidates for you to interview.
The register is up and running at www.aen.org.au/outoftrade
Building Recovery Taskforce Continues Fast Tracking Of Projects
The Victorian Government today announced the “fast tracking” of more than $1.2 billion worth of building and development projects as part of its ongoing work to kickstart Victoria’s economy and create jobs.
As previously reported, the Building Victoria’s Recovery Taskforce was established last month to identify and accelerate “shovel-ready priority projects” that will deliver short and long-term jobs. The latest major projects to receive approvals include:
- A $290 million, 21 storey office building at 140 Lonsdale Street, which will become the Melbourne headquarters of the Australian Federal Police
- A 68-storey development at 640 Bourke Street, worth $234 million, including 857 apartments, retail space and an art gallery
- A $180 million, 41-storey hotel development at 600 Lonsdale Street featuring 288 hotel rooms, as well as office and retail space
- A 20 storey, commercial office and retail building at 683-699 Elizabeth St located in an emerging biomedical precinct worth $60 million
- A $60 million residential development on the former Commonwealth Games village site at 67-81 Galada Avenue, Parkville.
Together, these projects will create thousands of construction jobs and house thousands more – driving economic activity in the inner-city.
Planning Minister Richard Wynne has also called in from VCAT a $250 million development at 31 Station Street Caulfield, which includes a build-to-rent scheme, affordable housing and a supermarket, retail and office space. The call in means the Minister will make the final decision on the approval of this important project.
The Taskforce is calling for submissions of priority projects of state and regional significance that could be considered for development assistance, including those that may be awaiting a decision at VCAT or a local council. Priority projects are being assessed for their capacity to protect and create jobs, stimulate economic recovery, and contribute to broader social objectives like affordable and social housing.
Today’s announcement builds on the Government’s $2.7 billion Building Works package of shovel-ready projects across the state that will create 3,700 direct jobs and thousands more across our supply chains, while also pumping extra dollars back into the economy. To view the full eligibility criteria for the Building Victoria Recovery Taskforce and to make a submission, visit www.planning.vic.gov.au/policy-and-strategy/building-victorias-recovery-taskforce
CCF Seeks Member Input on Updates to MRWA Gravity Sewerage Standards
The MRWA has been collecting industry feedback on the current MRWA Gravity Sewerage standards since 2016.
During this period, they relevant water authorities have accumulated a significant number of suggestions from Contractors, Consultants, Product Suppliers, Project Delivery and Operations and Maintenance personnel. Most of the feedback has centred on gaps in the standards where there has been limited or no information on best practice. Comprehensive inspections of new gravity sewerage assets has also been undertaken by the MRWA to see how new assets are performing. Virtually all the standards have been updated and about a dozen new standards have been developed.
All CCF Members are now invited to review the proposed changes and offer comment before finalisation and publication of the revised standards on the MRWA web Portal.
FOR MORE DETAILS:
To view the list of Significant Changes CLICK HERE
To view/download the accompanying drawings CLICK HERE
Review comments are to be forwarded to email@example.com for a submission to MRWA. Comments are required by COB 12 June, 2020.
Webinars – CCF Online Masterclass Series
Workplace Manslaughter Legislation: Back by popular demand is an “encore” webinar and CCF Online Masterclass with Cameron Hannebery from Lander & Rogers on the introduction of Workplace Manslaughter Legislation wef 1 July 2020. Being conducted on Thursday, 4 June, this “encore” webinar will be FREE to CCF Victoria Members, as a benefit of membership, with a nominal charge being made for non-members and guests. More details regarding the event and bookings can be found on the CCF website via the attached link https://www.ccfvic.com.au/events/wml-webinar-encore or contact the team at CCF on 1300 DIAL CCF.
Business Survival (Life After Stimulus): Guest Presenters Adrian Misiano and Alan Khoury of Matthews Steer (Accountants & Advisors) will present on strategies for contractor business to assist financial survival post the current government stimulus programs. The event will be conducted on Thursday, 11 June with more details regarding the event found and bookings made on the CCF website via the attached link https://www.ccfvic.com.au/events/business-survival-webinar/ or contact the team at CCF on 1300 DIAL CCF.
Until my next CEO Update .… keep well and keep safe.