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Around the nation

Victorian news

Know the new IR rules

It is tough to keep up with the multitude of changes to the Fair Work Legislation. It is even worse not to. Master Plumbers’ Senior Workplace Relations Advisor Phil Eberhard shines a light on two specific components - Superannuation and Wage Deductions.

In the past few years, you would have heard that the Fair Work Act 2009 (C’th) (FW Act) has been amended.

These changes are listed below:

  • the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Act 2022 (C’th) (SJBP Act).
  • the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Protecting Worker Entitlements) Act 2023 (C’th) (PWE Act).
  • the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes) Act 2023 (C’th) (CL1 Act).
  • the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Closing Loopholes No. 2) Act 2024 (C’th) (CL2).

The changes have all had different start dates from 6 December 2022 through to 26 February 2025.

The following are two examples of issues that would have the capacity to directly affect Master Plumbers members.

Right to Superannuation in the National Employment Standards

Under the Superannuation Guarantee (Administration) Act 1992, the Superannuation Guarantee Charge Act 1992, the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 and the Superannuation (Resolution of Complaints) Act 1993 (Superannuation Legislation), an employer must make superannuation contributions to a superannuation fund for the benefit of an employee as will avoid the employer being required to pay the superannuation guarantee charge (SGC) with respect to that employee.

The National Employment Standard (NES) entitlement to super aligns with the Superannuation Legislation, so if an employer complies with the SGC they will also meet their obligations under the NES.

The main change for employers and employees to note is that the inclusion of superannuation in the NES allows an employee to take court action under the Fair Work Act 2009 to recover unpaid superannuation entitlements.

This was previously the domain of the Australian Tax Office and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Employee Authorised Deductions Section 324 of the Fair Work Act permits the employer to deduct money from an amount payable to an employee provided that the deduction is “authorised in writing by the employee and is principally for the employee’s benefit”.

An employer may also deduct money where the deduction is authorised by the employee in accordance with an enterprise agreement; or the deduction is authorised by, or under, for example, the Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2020; or the deduction is authorised by, or under a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory, or an order of a court.

An employee can provide their employer with a written authorisation that gives their employer permission to deduct money from their pay, even where the amount can change from year to year. The written agreement must include:

For a one-off deduction -

  • The amount of the deduction.
  • The reason for the deduction.
  • The date the deduction will be made.
  • The name of the person who will receive the deducted amount.

For regular deductions -

  • Whether the deductions are for one or more specific amounts or for amounts that could change over time.
  • The reason for the deductions.
  • If the deductions are for specific amounts.
  • What those amounts are.
  • The date and frequency of the deductions.
  • The name of the person who will receive the deductions.

Further to the above employers must record deductions in an employee’s records, specify on the payslip the amount of any deduction and the name, or name and number, of the fund or account the deduction was paid into.

It should be noted that an employer has the right to recoup monies that have been accidentally overpaid to an employee. However, this doesn’t mean that an employer has the right to just deduct the whole amount of the over payment from the employees next pay, rather, the employer should discuss the
situation with the employee and come up with an agreed plan as to how the money will be re-paid (even if this means that the employee will repay the overpaid monies at $10.00 per week for the next two years.

For more information, Master Plumbers (Victoria) can contact Phil Eberhard, Senior Workplace Advisor, on [email protected] or by phone on 0425 790 722.

Restoring trust in regulator

Master Plumbers welcomes the Victorian Government’s crackdown on the Victorian Building Authority, which included the recent removal of the board.

“It is no secret that Master Plumbers has strongly advocated for improvements to the way in which our industry is regulated,” Master Plumbers CEO Peter Daly said. “For our members and our industry, we are particularly interested in the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) having a stronger and more visible
focus on those parts of the industry that are operating unprofessionally.

“It is the unregistered and unprofessional element of the industry that operates to the detriment of the vast majority who are doing the right thing.”Master Plumbers is looking forward to working with the Planning Minister Sonya Kilkenny and the newly appointed sole commissioner, who was the CEO, Anna Cronin on VBA’s reform agenda.

“Together, we can ensure the next-generation VBA is a regulator that the community and plumbing industry can rely on to safeguard the health and well-being of the community.

The state’s construction watchdog has been under investigation since 2022 when allegations first emerged about its operation. The VBA has had two independent inquiries into allegation of it being a toxic workplace.

Under the changes, Ms Cronin will be supported by new advisory committees made up of plumbing, building and consumer experts with the aim of improving the regulator’s performance and thereby restoring trust.

A review of the Domestic Building Contracts Act and the work of the Building System Review Expert Panel will also take place.

Lifeline:131 114
Incolink: 1300 000 129


Driving for change

In the demanding world of plumbing, we can often neglect our mental health. Shockingly, research shows that trades people are twice as likely to die by suicide compared to those in other professions.

Master Plumbers, in partnership with This is a Conversation Starter (TIACS), is taking a stand to change this narrative. This year, 100-plus plumbing industry professionals joined forces with Master Plumbers to help raise awareness for TIACS, a free counselling service offering mental health support to Australia’s blue-collar community. The Charity Golf Day - held at Kooringal Golf Club, raised $10,000 for TIACS and provided a stunning backdrop for some friendly competition across 18 holes of Ambrose. Thanks to major sponsors, Benton’s Plumbing Supplies and Holman Plumbing, as well as our other sponsors.

For more information on TIACS or to donate, visit www.tiacs.org

Plumbers Pub Night

May hosted the latest Master Plumbers Pub Night, which gathered plumbers from all over Geelong at Cremorne Hotel for a night of networking and informative talks.

Thanks to Master Plumbers President, Norm Anderson, Chief Technical Advisor Gary Bath and to Barwon Water for their industry updates on the night. These evenings continue to offer plumbers the opportunity to connect and stay up-to-date on industry changes.

Special thanks to Master Plumbers Board member Greg Tink for leading the event.

Tasmanian news

President’s report

Kicking off the Winter season has seen Master Plumbers Association Tasmania (MPAT) successfully join the High Vis Army Project – an initiative of the Tasmanian State Government.

What is the High Vis Army? In June 2020, the Tasmanian Government announced a $3.1 billion ‘Construction Blitz’ with a focus on building capacity within the state’s building and construction industry.

The Government has entered a partnership with industry to ‘Build the Workforce to Build Tasmania’.

MPAT is delighted to be a part of this project and will be working with other industry partners and stakeholders to meet the demands of the Tasmanian economy now and into the future.

MPAT will be announcing specific project outcomes in the next half of 2024 and there will be many opportunities for members to get involved in shaping our industry’s future.

Meanwhile, the MPAT Board has regretfully accept the resignation from Paul Bottomley. Paul has given his time freely to our MC and represents MPAT on the Tasmania Small Business Council.

Paul, of Professional Plumbing, has retired from our Board and is also opting for a well-earned rest from the daily grind of running a plumbing business. Paul and his partner Pip have sold Professional Plumbing, but they are not leaving just yet. Paul and Pip will be doing some consultancy work with the new owners.

Paul has owned and directed an extremely successful plumbing company for over 35 years. During that time, he has trained more than 80 apprentices into our industry.

While Paul has seen many changes and challenges in our industry, he has always maintained a high level of professionalism and a friendly nature.

We wish Paul, and his wonderful partner Pip, a fabulous, new relaxing lifestyle.

Anthony Balik

Plumbing with purpose

Kiely Plumbing is not about buzzwords it is about building a values-driven business that is inclusive and community minded. Kathryn Kernahan reports.

When Sam Kiely, General Manager of Kiely Plumbing, talks about ‘plumbing with purpose,’ it’s not a buzzword, it’s a philosophy the team of the family-run business live by.

“Plumbing with purpose encapsulates our vision, goals, beliefs and values, giving something for our people to attach to and be part of. My grandfather Tony founded the business 55 years ago and I’ve been here for just over 10 years - it’s been great to come in, inject some youth, and implement policies and procedures to modernise the business,” he says.

From being the first Tasmanian business to partner with Tradeswomen Australia and participate in their Workplace Diversity Project - breaking down barriers for women seeking a career in the trades - through to investing in the health and wellbeing of its staff, Kiely Plumbing is more than our run-of-the-mill business.

“We’ve really encouraged opportunities for anybody to take part in the plumbing industry,” he says.

“I’ve got two daughters, Mila is two-and-a-half and Maya is 11-months old, so it’s crucial for us to advocate for a future where they, and others like them, can pursue any career without facing gender barriers. So, there’s a personal reason why this is important for me, and it also aligns with the business’ vision and purpose to be an employer of choice, which was recognised by the Tasmanian Government last year for these reasons and our work around mental health and wellbeing.”

As part of the Workplace Diversity Project, Kiely Plumbing has employed a female apprentice, which Sam says has been a win-win.

“Amber is our female apprentice, she’s leading the way, she’ll knock the plumber out of the way, grab the tools and jump into it. She had a career at McDonald’s and came across to us,” he says. “She’s provided new perspectives for the guys around her as well, which has been beneficial for the team as well as our culture and environment.”

With Sam’s father Michael and uncle Nick also part of the business, there was never any doubt he would follow in his family’s footsteps.

“I was always inspired by my family’s dedication to the plumbing industry.

I grew up watching them (and then) work every school holidays and any time I was able to. I spent time in the business, jumping on the machines or going out with plumbers for the day to learn about the trade and the industry.”

However, after completing his four-year apprenticeship with the family business, Sam’s career took a bit of a different turn.

“I sort of didn’t have any plans when I first started my apprenticeship. I completed the first few years and then sort of fell into an office-based role and really enjoyed it.

“These days, I’m not on the tools at all. I’m primarily managing our day-to-day operations like marketing, branding, HR, customer relationships, systems and software, and implementing lots of cool programs and initiatives.

“We have a team of around 35 people, about seven in the office, about eight apprentices, and the rest are plumbers. Over our 55-year history, we’ve been lucky enough to provide over 80 apprenticeship opportunities to young people in the plumbing industry,” he says.

Kiely Plumbing has a commercial division, working on major developments including schools, aquatic centres and nursing home redevelopments.

“One of our major projects is the Latrobe Hospital redevelopment, which is a $41m project involving a significant plumbing package.

We also do a lot of maintenance work for mums and dads, businesses, real-estate companies and government organisations, we’ve got lots of recurring customers in that space.

“One thing we offer is guaranteed, fixed-price services for our general maintenance items like blocked drains and hot water systems, which puts the customer in charge and gives them upfront certainty with no surprises at the end of the day as to what their charges might be.”

Sam says 2024 is a big year for the business with several new initiatives underway, including Project Electrify, which will begin to transition its fleet of 20 vehicles to electric vehicles, and Mission Neutral to support Kiely Plumbing’s journey to become carbon neutral.

“We’re also launching a Waterwise initiative about water sustainability, to educate our customers and followers about water sustainability and the different ways they can implement it in their homes and businesses, and we’re involved in a Youth Accommodation project, which provides accommodation for vulnerable youth in Burnie,” he says.

Another topic close to Sam’s heart is mental wellbeing - which is why the business has invested in a life coach available to spend one-on-one time with its staff.

“Work and life aren’t totally separate, what’s going on in someone’s personal life has a huge impact on how they perform at work. We want our people to be the best they can be, not only whilst they’re at work, but in their home lives too.”

Wanting to tell the story of the business’ rich family history and the innovative ways in which they’re supporting the community, Sam recently published a book called Plumbing with Purpose, which is available on Amazon.

“The book follows the journey of Kiely Plumbing and our family-built business for 55 years, and the values that drive us. I’m really proud of putting that out there and getting to capture some history and memories of the business.”

 

 

 

Simpro – 2 x 3 month – started may 24

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Simpro – 2 x 3 month – started may 24

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