Subcontractor support

Subcontractors and small businesses in general are particularly vulnerable to risks connected with late or non-payment, insolvencies and unfair behaviour.

Planned changes

The State Government plans to introduce several initiatives to provide greater security for subcontractors, including:

  • Expanding the role of the Small Business Commissioner to oversee and investigate complaints into poor practices, including delayed payments experienced by subcontractors and other small businesses. This will include establishing a new Investigations and Inquiry Unit within the SBDC.
  • Providing the Commissioner with additional tools when inquiring into business practices that adversely affect small businesses. This includes having greater authority to:
    • compel parties to provide information or documents (with a financial penalty for non-compliance)
    • offer resolution services
    • protect complainants from retribution by maintaining the confidentiality of complainants who have experienced late payments or breaches of contract when dealing with larger organisations.
  • The Commissioner will also be able to investigate matters identified through trend analysis and by insights gained from other government agencies.
  • Results from investigations may be reported to ministers, local government, State Government and specified Commonwealth Government bodies and regulators, including the ACCC. This could result in sanctions being imposed.

What won’t change

These enhancements are expected to become law in early to mid 2020, however what won’t change is:

  • our existing culture of providing positive support for WA’s small businesses
  • offering our current highly effective dispute resolution service
  • referral to services already provided by other agencies, such as Building and Energy (formerly known as the Building Commission).

Full details of our support services for the construction industry will be available on this page in early to mid 2020.

Where to find help now

  • If you are in dispute with a third party or have a business issue you would like assistance with, our current business advisory team may be able to help. Read about our dispute resolution service or call an adviser on 133 140.
  • Information and resources relating to the current Western Australian Building and Construction Industry Code of Conduct 2016 are available on this page.
  • Building and Energy (formerly known as the Building Commission) (T: 1300 489 099) provides services for the regulation and licensing of the building industry, as well as the rapid adjudication process under the current Construction Contracts Act 2004. It is also responsible for the ongoing management of relevant legislation.
  • The Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) is responsible for workplace relations matters in the building and construction industry, and security of payment issues on commonwealth funded projects.
  • Contact WorkSafe on 1300 307 877 for any workplace health and safety issues on construction sites.
  • If you, or someone you know, is struggling with anxiety, stress or depression, MATES in Construction (T: 1300 642 111) provides advice and support.

New legislation progresses to parliament

On 11 June 2019, Minister for Small Business Hon. Paul Papalia CSC MLA tabled changes to the Small Business Development Corporation Act 1983 to boost the authority of the Small Business Commissioner. The reforms will underpin the establishment of a specialised Investigations and Inquiry Unit aimed at improving corporate and government behaviour and removing unfair practices.

Read the full media statement.