The Australian Government introduced a bill which will (amongst other things) drastically shorten the period for EAs made before 2 December 2016 to be National Building Code-compliant, from 29 November 2018 to 1 September 2017. EAs made after 2 December 2016 will continue to be subject to the Code immediately.
While the bill has yet to become law, the Government has reportedly won cross-bench support for the amendment.
Given this will result in a substantial shortening of the compliance period, building industry participants should move swiftly to secure Code-compliant EAs prior to 1 September 2017.

Why do I need to be Code complaint?
On 2 December 2016 the Australian Government re-established the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) and released a new Building Code for the Tendering and Performance of Building Work 2016 (Code).

All employers who are performing Commonwealth-funded building work must ensure that they are compliant with the Code now (for newly-made EAs) or by 29 November 2018 (for EAs made before 2 December 2016). 
If you do not meet these requirements you cannot perform building work on projects that are either directly or indirectly funded by the Federal Government.

What does the Code require?
The Code includes strict provisions in relation to compliance with (amongst other things):
right of entry laws for union officials;
  • freedom of association requirements in relation to protecting the rights of workers to join (or not joined) a union;
  • work health and safety laws
  • obligations not engage in sham contracting; and
  • security of payment laws.
  • freedom of association requirements in relation to protecting the rights of workers to join (or not joined) a union;
EAs that are made from 2 December 2016 onwards must comply with the Code in order to be to be eligible to be awarded Commonwealth-funded work.
For current EAs made prior to 2 December 2016, building industry participants have until 29 November 2018 to ensure that their EAs are compliant with the Code.
Non-compliance with the Code means that companies may lose access to Commonwealth-funded building work.

Who assesses compliance with the Code?
The ABCC assesses EAs for consistency with the Code.

What happens to the previous Building Code?
The obligations in the previous Building Code 2013 continue to apply to Commonwealth-funded building work where expressions of interest or tenders were issued prior to 2 December 2016.

What do I need to do?
If you operate in the building industry and wish to participate in Commonwealth-funded building work, it is critical that you ensure to take steps as early as possible to review your current or proposed EAs for compliance with the Code.