Construction & Major Projects

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Client Update: Revised Implementation Guidelines for construction industry

7 March 2012

In brief: Revised federal guidelines introduce several important changes to the requirements that construction industry participants must meet. Partner Simon Dewberry (view CV) and Lawyer Naomi Snyder report.


The Federal Government has released revised Implementation Guidelines (the Guidelines) for the National Code of Practice for the Construction Industry (the Code). The Code and Guidelines place obligations on persons who undertake, or want to win, Government construction work. The revised Guidelines will apply to all projects that are the subject of an expression of interest or tender that has been let for the first time on or after 1 May 2012. They introduce several important amendments to the current Guidelines, some of which involve a further relaxation in construction industry regulation.

Key amendments

  • Unregistered written agreements: The Guidelines will permit unregistered written agreements relating to specified matters, including the, potentially very broad, category of 'initiatives to encourage fair, cooperative and productive workplace relations across the industry'. This amendment has the potential to increase union pressure on employers to sign unregistered written agreements.
  • Dispute resolution: The Guidelines will require that enterprise agreements provide for compulsory arbitration. This exceeds the requirements under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act), but reflects the Government's Fair Work Principles.
  • Project agreements: Some of the conditions on making project agreements have been relaxed. In particular, project agreements may now be permitted on projects worth less than $100 million, and there is no longer a requirement that the project agreement provide a clear and demonstrable benefit to the Government. However, other key restrictions on project agreements remain, including that they must be approved under the Act and that they cannot override each contractors' workplace arrangements.

Next steps

Construction industry participants should familiarise themselves with the revised Guidelines, to ensure ongoing compliance. They should also consider whether the changes create any industrial relations risks for new projects.

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