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Know how to get paid

May 11, 2020

As a subcontractor, knowing how to ensure that you get paid is a vital part of running a business.

Have a subcontract in place

You are legally required to have a written subcontract agreement. Both the builder and subcontractor can be fined for not having one in place. As a subcontractor it is important that you understand, and it must be clearly detailed under the contract, when you are eligible to make a claim for work done (progress payments) and when you will receive payment for the claim (due date for payment).

Claim in accordance with the contract

It is important that subcontractors:

  1. Send invoices on time according to the contract between you and the builder.
  2. If payment is not received by the due date, contact the builder immediately and ensure that the invoice has been received and enquire as to why it has not been paid.
  3. If there is a dispute as to payment then subcontractors can engage in one (or all) of the following statutory processes to secure payment.

Security of Payment laws

The Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (‘BIF Act’) provides a rapid adjudication system for payment disputes which typically provides for quicker judgements than court processes.

Commonly, subcontractors make an error at the very first step by not submitting their invoice in accordance with the contract or by not following through with the statutory steps and timeframes if the invoice is not paid.

HIA has a detailed webinar that steps through this important legislative right. To access the webinar log into the HIA website and locate the webinar and course materials under ‘Publications, Webinars, Recorded Webinars, QLD Members only

QBCC Monies owed complaint

A subcontractor, who has not been paid their invoice, can make a ‘monies owed’ complaint to the QBCC that the builder (or QBCC licensed entity that has engaged them) is breaching their licensing requirements by not paying all undisputed debts.

To make a ‘monies owned’ compliant fill out the form and submit to the QBCC (with relevant details such as the building contract, evidence of invoices sent etc.).

The QBCC will then provide the builder an opportunity to respond.

If there is any evidence, including previous emails sent between the subcontractor and builder, indicating that outstanding money is not in dispute QBCC are likely to move straight to licence suspension or cancellation if the undisputed money is not paid.

Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT)

QCAT has jurisdiction to hear commercial building disputes up to a value of $50,000. This is a tribunal where parties can self-represent. Before going to QCAT you’ll need a formal certificate from QBCC stating that you have tried to resolve the matter through their dispute process. If the monies owed complaint has been unsuccessful this is what you will receive from QBCC. QCAT has broad powers to award payment for work completed.

Other options

There are a range of other options such as subcontractor charges under the BIF Act and statutory demands under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth) to name a few.

The above provides a general overview only and each process above has additional steps. If members require any assistance you can contact a Workplace Adviser on 1300 650 620 or email