The Justice and Peace Commission welcomes this public consultation and believes that if it is robust enough and its implementation properly enforced, the proposed regulations on the Contractor’s licence can be a step in the right direction. Also, we are aware that measures concerning who can enter the construction market as a contractor on their own, while important, cannot provide a comprehensive solution to all the well-known problems affecting this industry. For instance, we believe that there should also be mandatory licences for employees who want to engage in the industry, not just employers, as well as further clarification of the responsibilities of key stakeholders through a process which simplifies and streamlines the various laws and regulations of the construction industry.
The following are the Commission’s proposals:
- There should be means of ensuring that a new contractor has a gradual entry into the industry, through, for example, apprenticeship schemes etc.
- There should be ways of assessing the abilities of a new contractor via something like a ‘test project’. A license to operate in the market would be issue in relation to such a project.
- Apart from the three different licences mentioned in the draft; i.e. demolition, excavation and building works; there should be various types of licenses regarding each. Not all contractors should be able to bid for any type of project. Authorities should see that a particular contractor engages only in projects s/he or his/her company are able to undertake in a manner that is safe for the employees engaged by his/her company.
- Employers should be bound by law to insure their employees. All legal obstacles which currently prevent some employees from being legally employed should immediately be removed.
- Knowledge by contractors of “Adequate knowledge of basic health and safety standards and regulations” which the draft rightly suggests (without however stipulating in what this knowledge consists), should be further by supplemented by provisions that legally bind contractors to see that their employees attend regular health & safety courses, and to provide health and safety equipment to all of them.
- Apart from asking for the police conduct in relation to applications to enter the construction market as a contractor, the Board should also consider other available information regarding applicant: history when it comes to maintenance of safety standards, knowledge of labor laws, any fines incurred, complaints by neighbours etc. Inter-agency communication is crucial in this sense.
- The draft suggests that ‘16 2a (2) At any stage prior to final determination of the application, the Committee may: review and, or visit completed or ongoing projects of the applicant.’ Before granting or renewal such a review should be compulsory.