Employees, Volunteers, Contractors, Internships

Employees, Volunteers, Contractors, Internships – The Titles Go On and On

by Evelyn Morraitis

We all know that we are great designers, energy raters and architects. Let’s face it, BDAV members are good at what they do; documentation, working drawings, specifying and so on and so forth. But there are many of us who haven’t been through business school or have a double degree in building design and human resources. Given that almost 90% of BDAV members are either sole practitioners or run a small business, therefore making resources limited, the BDAV prides itself on providing a repertoire of business services to our members. While it is expected that the BDAV’s reference material focusses on the technical side of the job, there is likewise an extensive emphasis placed on the process of hiring an employee. In accordance with the Fair Work Ombudsman, the VBA practitioner registration process and the Building Act 1993, the following key points apply to building designers and architects:

  • If you are completing a project that is over the total amount of $10,000, you must be a registered practitioner with the VBA.
  • As a registered practitioner you are required to have appropriate insurances in place. For the category of Draftsperson, professional indemnity insurance is required.
  • If you are utilising a contractor for a project over $10,000, then the contractor must be registered, and therefore have their own insurance.
  • An employee more than likely will not be a registered practitioner.

What is the difference between a contractor and an employee?

  • Contractors are required to have an ABN.
  • Contractors have to pay their own tax and superannuation.
  • Contractors do not receive paid leav.
  • Contractors can set their rates.

The above does not apply to employees.

Who is an employee then?

When hiring an employee who will be engaged in drafting, whether it is a student, graduate or someone with 15 years’ experience but is not registered, the employer must be a registered practitioner with the VBA, or an architect registered with the ARBV. The employee’s work will be your responsibility, as their work and documentation will fall under your practitioner number.

On a side note, the copyright will always sit with the employer (unless specified otherwise in employee contract) but the employee will own moral rights. The same however cannot be assumed for the relationship between you and the contractor, and volunteers as a matter of fact; copyright will be owned by the contractor or volunteer. Therefore, it is recommended that an agreement is put in place if you are wanting to be the author of copyright.

An employee with an architectural degree or undertaking an architectural degree – whether that be Bachelor/Masters of Architecture – fall under the Architects Award 2010. A designer or draftsperson undertaking an Advanced Diploma of Building Design (Architectural) falls under the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010.

Can a student or graduate be a contractor then?

Anyone can be a contractor, provided they have an ABN and pay tax and superannuation. But if they are conducting architectural works or drafting for works greater than $10,000, they must be a registered practitioner or architect and have professional indemnity insurance.

Why not just hire a volunteer then?

  • Volunteers should not be conducting the same duties or performing the same role that a paid employee is doing. This could eventuate into a serious legal case. The same rule can be applied for an unpaid internship and work experience.
  • Volunteering only occurs in the not-for-profit sector.
  • Volunteering is aimed to benefit the community.

To view all of the BDAV practice notes in regard to hiring an employee, please login to the members area of the BDAV’s website, at www.bdav.org.au. In particular, note Employment Templates MN023-2017.

Evelyn Morraitis is the BDAV’s Membership & Corporate Partnership Officer.