Supporting safe and fair workplaces in 2021-22

Having safe and secure work is foundational to an inclusive society.

Supporting safe and fair workplaces

The Victorian Government supports a stable, cooperative and fair system of industrial and workplace relations for all Victorians. The Framework provides a set of principles for companies that seek to work with the Victorian Government. All suppliers are required to comply with their legal obligations under applicable legislation and regulations, industrial awards and agreements, tribunal decisions and contracts of employment.

The national workplace relations system aims to promote safety, flexibility and productivity in the workplace and to maintain clear and enforceable minimum national employment standards that ensure workers have access to a fair, safe and secure workplace.

These principles send the clear message that high standards for workplace safety and industrial practices are the norm rather than the exception. The Victorian Government promotes safe and secure work by purchasing from suppliers that comply with industrial relations laws and promote secure employment, foundational to an inclusive society. 

The Supporting Safe and Fair Workplaces objective aligns with and supports the Victorian Government’s Supplier Code of Conduct. While compliance with key industrial relations laws throughout supply chains is the primary focus of this objective, it also promotes job security and can address underpayment and exploitation of workers.

The Victorian Government’s Code of Conduct for its suppliers 

The Victorian Government has a Code of Conduct for its suppliers to ensure their businesses and supply chains meet expectations around integrity, conflict of interest, corporate governance, labour and human rights, health and safety, and environmental management. 

In particular, the government believes that all workers in its supply chains must be treated with dignity and respect and paid fair wages. 

Suppliers are expected to provide a fair and ethical workplace that upholds high standards of human rights and integrates appropriate labour and human rights policies and practices into its business. 

They must not bully, harass, victimise, abuse or discriminate against any worker and have an obligation to identify modern slavery practices in their supply chains. 

No one deserves to be injured at work and all suppliers must demonstrate how they comply with workplace health and safety laws. 

Suppliers must also show how they minimise the environmental impact of their operations, including managing waste; using energy and resources efficiently; and reducing the risk of pollution, loss of biodiversity, damage to ecosystems and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Case Study: Victorian School Building Authority and Hutchinson Builders

Man in orange high-viz t-shirt pushing kick-trolley loaded up with boxes, all in front of a truck bearing the logo of Fruit2Work.

Compliance with the Supplier Code of Conduct and industrial relations is a crucial part of Hutchinson Builders’ contract with the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA), and they have attested that their business and all their sub-contractors also complied with these requirements. Hutchinson Builders and their sub-contractors ensured key requirements were achieved while also promoting job security for their employees throughout the course of the project.

One of the sub-contractors they engaged was Fruit2Work, a social enterprise providing fruit, milk and pantry items to their clients while providing training and employment pathways to people who have been through the justice system. Fruit2Work provided kitchen consumables to projects that were part of the VSBA’s New Schools 2023 Bundle A Project, comprising of 5 project sites in the western suburbs of Victoria. 

While the Supporting Safe and Fair Workplaces objective was the focus of the engagement, VSBA, Hutchinson Builders and Fruit2Work also worked towards achieving the Opportunities for Disadvantaged Victorians objective. During 2021–22, Hutchinson Builders spent nearly $7,500 with Fruit2Work, representing 130 hours of employment for people experiencing long-term unemployment. These hours were spread across several employees, including 3 Aboriginal employees, 2 employees with disability and 38 long-term unemployed people. During 2021–22, Fruit2Work supported 94% (15 of 16 employees) of their staff to transition into further employment outside of Fruit2Work. Fruit2Work employed an additional 18 people during 2021–22 with 4 employed full-time and 6 as casuals. 

Fruit2Work pays employee wages at or above the Storage Services and Wholesale Award and have adopted a modern slavery policy developed in conjunction with the Red Cross. Fruit2Work also requires their suppliers to adopt and adhere to a modern slavery policy before engaging with them. 

Fruit2Work General Manager Simon is one person who has benefited from Fruit2Work’s people-centred holistic employment and training program. After a workplace injury led him down the path of drug addiction and crime, he was sentenced to 12 months’ prison in 2016. Upon his release, he was unable to find a job, with continuous rejection from most employers due to his criminal record. Simon was soon hired by Fruit2Work and has progressed over 5 years from his initial role as a packer to driver, operations manager and, since February 2022, general manager. Simon now provides guidance to new staff members as they join Fruit2Work and is thrilled to have rebuilt his life through meaningful work. 

Hutchinson Builders’ engagement of sub-contractors such as Fruit2Work enables the Victorian Government to work with suppliers that provide safe and fair workplaces, promote job security and address exploitation of workers. 

Because of social procurement, 37 Fruit2Work families will enjoy having their brother or sister, mother or father, son or daughter home. Social procurement changes lives and saved mine.