Transition from Apprentice to Licensed Builder
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trisch baffLast week I had an apprentice in to discuss how to go about becoming a licensed builder. As a manager at FCTA, which is a Registered Training Organisation, I get questions like this a lot, because basically, it’s unnecessarily complicated to get information!

Each state handles the issuing of builders licences separately, with their own rules and regulations. As a result there are differences state by state, and no one website to visit. Instead each state has its own website and application procedure. In South Australia, it’s the Office of Consumer and Business Affairs.

To mix things up a bit more, from July 2012, until sometime in 2013 a national system of licensing will be rolled out and the system for applying will change again.

Regardless of the complexity, it’s a step well worth taking! Fully qualified and licensed bricklayers can expect to earn more than they were as an apprentice and even have the ability to become their own boss. The process is the simplest for people who have finished their apprenticeship.

The requirement in SA is that two additional units are completed, one in small business finance, the other in business and legal requirements. These units cover off issues such as how to set up your business finances and what legal issues you need to be aware of. Once that is done, it’s a matter of filling in the paperwork, supplying copies of your apprenticeship papers and proof of completion of the two additional units to the South Australian Office of Consumer and Business Affairs.

This department is in the process of developing an online application process, so keep checking back.

At this point, eyes start to glaze over and the idea of working as a subcontractor and being paid by ABN seems like a better option. While many people in the industry will tell you this is a good option, you need to be aware that if the majority of your income shows as being paid by the same employer this way, there will be issues.

Generally, a worker is an employee and not a contractor if:

  • You are paid for the time you work, as opposed to being paid for results
  • You receive paid leave
  • You are NOT responsible for providing the majority of materials or equipment to do a job and
  • Your work hours are set by an award or agreement.

The implications of being paid under an ABN when you are working as employee can include, not having workcover support if you are injured at work, not having your superannuation contributions paid and for the employer, fines of up to $33,000 if they try to claim falsely they you are a contractor.

On top of this, employers can be made to pay superannuation and other benefits previously not paid under the shame contractor set up. For information on becoming a builder in other states you will need to contact your local licensing authority, training organisation, MBA or HIA.

A little work now to get your builders license will save some major headaches later on!

Trisch Baff,
Marketing & Project Manager,
FCTA – Building Careers

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