As part of Repeal Day, the Coalition Government announced that it would cease a number of regulatory arrangements that are administered by the Department of Employment and apply to Australian Government procurements. These changes will take effect from 1 July 2014.
These arrangements create different requirements for suppliers to Government than those required in the private sector. The requirements under the Government’s mainstream procurement framework (such as the Commonwealth Procurement Rules) and the mainstream workplace relations framework will continue to apply.
The changes involve revoking the Fair Work Principles, which currently apply to all procurements above $80,000. The Fair Work Principles require tenderers to complete a declaration of compliance with the Fair Work Act 2009. Existing Government procurement policies and processes that require decision makers to ensure tenderers comply with laws and policies of the Commonwealth, including the Fair Work Act 2009, are not affected.
The Fair Work Principles also create specific obligations for tenderers from the cleaning services industry and those that manufacture textile, clothing and footwear products. These include the requirement for textile, clothing and footwear manufacturers to have accreditation under the Homeworkers Code of Practice administered by Ethical Clothing Australia, a joint union-industry non-government organisation. The Department’s funding agreement with Ethical Clothing Australia will also cease on 30 June 2014 to coincide with the end of this regulatory requirement.
The Fair Work Ombudsman investigates and prosecutes any allegations of underpaid wages or breaches of the Fair Work Laws.
As well as the cleaning services provisions in the Fair Work Principles, the associated Commonwealth Cleaning Services Guidelines (a legislative instrument under the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997) will also cease on 30 June 2014. Cleaning services providers tendering for Government work from 1 July 2014 will still be required to comply with all relevant workplace laws and the Modern Awards set by the Fair Work Commission.