Apprentices and the training that leads to the qualification of a tradesperson are constantly under attack from political and employer groups. This Union is committed to protecting and improving the fundamental rights of the Apprentice at work. Becoming a Member of your Union will give you the opportunity to participate actively in the plumbing industry and give you the opportunity to fight for the advancement and improvement of the working conditions that directly affect you.
Surveys consistently show better wages and conditions for Union Members.
It stands to reason that no individual worker, in particular Apprentices, can stand alone and hope to bargain with an employer on an equal footing.
The PTEU ensures that the members combined stand by our Apprentices and speak with one voice.
We empower Apprentices in the workplace by:
Negotiating effectively on their behalf
Supporting Apprentices in disputation with their employers
Ensure that decisions are made in the interest of the Apprentice based system
Provide support and assistance to Apprentices that are subjected to workplace harassment and bullying
Advising on further training to expand the skill base of the Apprentice
Provide that training through our newly developed training facility
Assisting in Workcover claims.
Due to the high risk nature of our industry, we also give a high priority to training on occupational health and safety issues and special arrangements in relation to the level of competence of the Apprentice skills and knowledge.
Workers compensation, redundancy benefits and non-industrial services provided through Incolink are all services fought for and delivered to our Apprentices through the hard work of this Union
An Apprentice is employed under a Common Law Contract binding the Apprentice to the Employer, and the Apprentice has the same rights as any other employee. However both parties are subject to conditions of that contract. The contract of employment doesn’t necessarily lock the Apprentice into a long term contract with the employer and you can end the contract if you need to leave the employer.
The training contract is a binding agreement that you and your employer sign detailing the conditions of your employment including the off-the-job training you will get, which is delivered by a training organisation such as TAFE.
During the probationary period ( three months) the training contract can be canceled by either the Apprentice or the employer. After this period an apprenticeship can only be canceled, varied or suspended when the apprentice and the employer bothconsent; or when consent/agreement cannot be reached the apprenticeship can then be only canceled, varied or suspended by a decision of the ‘Apprenticeship Board’ following a hearing into the circumstances for cancellation, variation or suspension being sought.
The contract sets out conditions of your employment along with:
The duration of the apprenticeship
Industrial arrangements under which you are employed
The qualifications to be obtained; that is the qualification of Certificate 3 in Plumbing, Certificate 3 Refrigeration, Certificate 3 Fire Protection.
The relevant wages and conditions to the apprenticeship
Compliance with relevant Commonwealth, State and Territory legislation related to the workplace, discrimination and equal opportunity
The industrial agreement will be either an Award, such as the “Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010”, an EBA for plumbing, fire, refrigeration industries negotiated between the Union and your employer, or other. The Training Contract must be fully completed by your employer and you, or if you are under 18 years of age, a parent.
Remember; never sign any document regarding your Training Contract without seeking advice from persons such as your Apprentices Liaison Officer. Once a signature has been sought, that document is a legally binding agreement and is very difficult to appeal. Assistance can also be sought through Australian Apprenticeships, www.australianapprenticeships.gov.au - 13 38 73, or the agency that co-ordinated your contract, example being jobsplus (www.jobsplusbiz.com.au 03 9919 8533)
Because of the special nature of the Apprenticeship employment contract, redundancy entitlements are only available to you after you have completed your Apprenticeship and continue working in the Industry for one year. However, should your Apprenticeship be canceled due to work shortage, or you become bone-fide redundant, then you may claim pro-rata entitlements. It is strongly advised that an Apprentice keep an account of the time spent between different employers and sites (commercial/industrial or domestic), as this may affect your entitlements.
Non-EBA Apprentices (Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010)
Service as an Apprentice will entitle an employee to accumulate credits towards the payment of a redundancy benefit if the employee completes an Apprenticeship and remains in employment with that employer for a further twelve months. Apprentices are advised to contact the Union Apprentice Liaison Officer if you are uncertain of your entitlement.
Redundancy is managed through Incolink and no contributions are paid into Incolink while you are an Apprentice. However a levy is paid on your behalf by other employees, and a record of the number of days you have worked on commercial/industrial construction sites is provided to Incolink by your employer each month. While Incolink is receiving credits as outlined above, Incolink will cover you with Leisure Time Insurance, and also provide you and your dependent family with Dental Accident Cover and Emergency Transport Cover.
Once you have completed your Apprenticeship, you will be entered onto the system as an employee and your Apprentice details will be credited to your file. When you have accumulated 12 months of contributions, the credit of days will be converted into a dollar amount and will be shown on your ‘Statement of Entitlement’ which you will receive 4 times a year. An Apprentice will qualify to claim redundancy payments as described above. To claim, or to make an inquiry, contact Incolink Claims Officer on (03) 9639 3000 or toll free on 1800 337 789. All redundancy payments are subject to the current rate of taxation.
Redundancy, IPT and PSL (Incolink)
Whilst your employer is providing Incolink with your employment status (called credits), Incolink will cover you with Leisure Time Insurance and also provide you and your family with Emergency Transport Cover and Dental Accident Insurance. Income Protection and Trauma Insurance (IPT) is payable under the EBA and entitles you to Leisure Time Illness Insurance, TAC and WorkCover top-up and other insurances. Contributions are shown on your Incolink statement. Portable Sick Leave (PSL) is also payable under your EBA, and enables you to access a maximum of 100 days sick leave you would normally lose when you leave or are terminated by your employer.
Apprentices: Long Service Leave
CoINVEST is the trading name for CoINVEST Limited which is responsible for administrating the Construction Industry Portable Long Service Leave Scheme throughout Victoria. As an Apprentice in the construction industry, regardless of the industrial agreement you are under, you should be registered with CoINVEST so you can receive long service leave entitlements – at no cost to you. The term 'portable' means service is accrued by multiple employers as you work throughout the Industry, and it is advisable you keep employment records such as Taxation Group Certificates for proof of service, as this will provide evidence of time served to assist in any disputed claim.
All time spent with your employer counts as service, including annual leave, sick leave, WorkCover, RDO’s, public holidays and time spent at TAFE. Conditions apply; however, after 7 years of continuous service credited with CoINVEST, a pro-rata claim can be made. Check with your employer to make sure you are registered or you can check your own details on the CoINVEST web site at www.coinvest.com.au. As it is a secure site, you’ll need a password to check your record (you can apply for one on the web site).
Established in 1984, Cbus is an Industry superannuation fund that originated in the building, construction and allied industries. Cbus is managed solely for the benefits of its Members, and all profits belong to its Members. Cbus pays no commission to sales agents, and no shareholder dividends. Cbus provides 24 hr insurance cover for death and permanent disablement (TPD), (subject to eligibility criteria) and many other benefits such as banking services through Members Equity, financial planning and many more products.
Apprentices need to be aware when they initially become a member of Cbus, they generally nominate to have 2 units of insurance up to the age of 21yrs. It is the members responsibility to ensure the amount of insurance cover ie, death or TPD, meets the members needs as their life changes, ie, mortgage and family commitments. Units of cover are nominated by the member, and the number of units dictate the amount of insurance payable should a claimable event occur. All Apprentices must receive employer contributions at a minimum rate of 9% of their wage.
Co-Contribution: If you are a low or middle income earner, you can make a personal super co-contribution payment each financial year and be eligible for a Federal Government payment into your super account dollar for dollar to a maximum of $1,000.00. (ie, you put in a $1,000, the Federal Government matches it by a $1,000.00. This works on a tapering scale, more information available on the ATO website, www.ato.gov.au). Any Apprentice with queries about Cbus membership or their contributions should contact the Apprentice Liaison Officer or Cbus on 1300 361 784 or www.cbussuper.com.au.
How do I know if I am covered by an EBA or Non-EBA Agreement?
When an Apprentice signs their Contract with their employer, the industrial agreement under which the Apprentice is employed is contained within that agreement. This will state if you are covered by an enterprise agreement known as an EBA, which is an agreement between your employer and the PTEU made on your behalf as a member of the Union. Another type of agreement is the Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010, which is a non EBA agreement, which sets out differing sets of pay rates and conditions. Some Apprentices move between these agreements, such as those who change employers, and it can become confusing for an Apprentice working between the two agreements.
It is strongly recommended all Apprentices keep a record of their work history, as entitlements such as redundancy, site allowances, RDO’s etc, will be affected depending on where the Apprentice spent their time. Any Apprentice who is unsure of their employment contract, conditions of pay, or general working rights within their workplace are encouraged to contact the Union Apprentice Liaison Officer.
Trade school forms the foundation of your training and underpins the concept of our trade based industry. Attendance as specified by your school (TAFE) is of utmost importance. There are many circumstances why an Apprentice can fall behind in their training, examples being:
An employer needs the Apprentice to stay at work due to staffing levels.
Illness (This can be physical or psycho -social).
Breakdown in communication between employer, school, yourself.
Any other unfortunate reason.
Non attendance can be an issue for dismissal of Apprentices. Being behind in schooling may also affect your re-employment with a perspective employer should your current employer terminate your contract through insolvency or any other unforeseen circumstance. Keeping on track is important. If for any reason an Apprentice finds they are experiencing difficulty in making up lost time, whether it is due to circumstances within their control or not, and discussions with your employer are unsatisfactory the Apprentice is advised to contact the Union Apprentice Liaison Officer as soon as they become aware the situation is causing their concern.
Training Fees ( Trade School)
Apprentices who are covered by an Industrial Agreement shall have their training/tuition fees paid for by their employer upon successfully completing the requirements of the trade school course. Apprentices who have a Health Care Card can have their fees reduced significantly. Being issued a Card is dependent on how much the Apprentice earns. Centrelink can mail you an application form.
State Government Apprentice Trade Bonus. ($500.00 taxed)
To be eligible for the bonus the Apprentice must commence their Apprenticeship on or after 1st January 2006. Each individual Apprentice is eligible to receive one 6 month payment of $250 and one 12 month payment of $250. This payment needs to be included as taxable income in your annual return. All Plumbing Trades Apprentices (including Sprinkler Fitting) are eligible for this payment.
It is the goal of appropriate and timely training of the Apprentice to provide for varying scope of supervision from direct to broad supervision over the four year cycle of the Apprenticeship. It is not to be assumed the longer the Apprentice is in trade, supervision diminishes automatically, as new skills and types of work are encountered at any level of training. Direct supervision can be defined where an Apprentice requires a tradesperson to constantly review the standard and work practices to ensure the quality and safety of the Apprentice. The tradesperson shall be in the immediate area of the Apprentice at all times.
General supervision can be defined where an Apprentice does not require constant supervision, but requires a tradesperson to make face to face contact with the Apprentice on a daily regular basis to ensure the quality and safety of the Apprentice is being maintained. Regardless of the time spent in trade, an Apprentice must never work in a situation where they are unsure or uncertain of what is required or how the task is to be performed safely. All employees, and more-so Apprentices, must be fully trained, informed, instructed and supervised by the employer. It is a legal obligation of the employer to ensure the safety of their employees. The “Work Health and Safety Act” places a duty of care on employers to provide such supervision to employees as is necessary to enable the employees to perform their work in a manner that is safe and without risks to health. The above guidelines do not remove or reduce the employers duty under the ‘Act’.
WorkCover (Workers Compensation)
Laws covering injured workers are extensive and complex. The Union has an OH&S Unit to provide advice to Members who simply need assistance with their claims or issues that arise on a day to day basis. Legal representation for our Members who are in dispute with employers and insurance agents in regards to their claims is also available. As an Apprentice and a Member of the Union these services are available to you, and it is recommended that an Apprentice who is injured at work or elsewhere, ie traveling to and from work or even out of work hours, contact the OH&S Unit if you are uncertain of your entitlements or have concerns about the way your injury is being treated and managed.
Completion of your Apprenticeship
To continue to carry out plumbing work in Victoria when your plumbing apprenticeship is complete, it is a requirement to become registered or licensed with the Plumbing Industry Commission.
A registered person can undertake work in all relevant classes that he/she has met the Plumbing Industry Commission requirements for;
- Completion of your apprenticeship,( a Completion Certificate from the State training Authority)
- Successful completion of your off-site trade training, ( a Tafe certificate, statement of results or equivalent)
- Successful completion of the Plumbing Industry Commission Assessment for the classes of plumbing you wish to become registered in, usually completed at the end of your trade training.
- A signed statement from your employer/ employers which establishes that you have completed a minimum of 4 years relevant plumbing work
And finally a fully completed and signed application form available from the Plumbing Industry Commission.
The Life After (PICAC)
Training doesn't finish with trade school. The Plumbing Trade is at the forefront of facing the challenges of reducing greenhouse gases and saving water and energy for the Victorian Community. The Union had the fore-sight of meeting these challenges, and developed a six star training facility that does not exist anywhere else in the world. The Plumbing Industry Climate Action Centre is a world's best practice facility and offers training for Union Members in all aspects of training and sustainability required of the Plumbing Industry.. The Centre offers training in all areas of up-skilling required of tradespersons from traffic management, confined space, boom and scissor lift, fork lift, roof safety and other OH+S modules. The Centre also focuses on ecological, economic and Industry sustainability, training in areas such as new technologies and innovation, sustainable products and practices for the up-skilling of new and current Plumbers dealing with the current climate change environment. Such training will encourage Plumbers to remain within the Industry by offering the flexibility of being able to train for a variety of roles, and expanding the employment opportunities of those that have taken up the training.
All training is FREE to Union Members, and fees are subsidised to your immediate family.
For more information contact CEPUTEC on 03 9356 8913 or visit on-line at www.ceputec.org.au