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Why it’s Vital to Use Licensed Trade Companies

Having a fuse or a pipe blow can be a nightmare, but it happens unfortunately often. So when you’re trusting a trade company to come into your home for repairs or maintenance, it’s important to know they’re fully licensed and insured.

Trade licences not only ensure the quality of a company’s trade work, but also their internal operating. These licences guarantee the company operates safely, fairly and legally for both their employees and you, their customer.

 

Customer safety and security

It’s important to know what quality of work you can expect from a company, overall and on an individual basis. Accurate and up-to-date licensing shows not only that the company you’re looking to hire has passed the government requirements of health and safety, as well as fair operating and is qualified to carry out the work they are advertising.

If a company has their licence suspended they have to cease all business activity immediately. This can result in work being left unfinished and paperwork going missing, so if the company is in the middle of working in your house they may have to leave a half-finished repair or upgrade with no way for you to have them complete the work or get a refund.

As home renovation or repairs are often incredibly costly, it’s important to perform a licence check before sending a deposit. In 2016 a builder was discovered to be unlicensed after receiving a deposit of $15,000 and was fined $40,000 and 12 month in jail.

In New South Wales, the fines for unlicensed electrical work range from $22,000 for people, to over $100,000 for businesses. In Queensland, a person can face up to $40,000 in fines just for doing electrical work, and over $100,000 if their electrical work results in any injuries.

The licensing also ensures they are performing all of their work safely. This means their tradesperson is able to keep themselves safe as well as you and your home. A national survey released by legal company Slater & Gordon showed that almost half of all Australian workers have at some stage agreed to perform unsafe work tasks, which the Work Health & Safety Act of 2011 aims to prevent. This Act states that a business failing to comply with their health and safety duty can be fined up to $1,500,000.

Why a company might have their licence suspended

A company’s licence may become suspended or cancelled for a number of reasons, such as

  • Becoming involved in illegal activity
  • Becoming bankrupt or subject to a winding up order
  • Misrepresentation or fraud

This misrepresentation or fraud can include not only misrepresenting the quality of their services provided, but also operating without a current licence, or an inaccurate licence. If a company offers multiple services, they must have current licences for each of these services.

If a company continues to operate without a licence, they can be subject to disciplinary action from Fair Trading, and may be open to legal action from their employees or customers. Continuing to operate without a licence after the initial disciplinary action can even result in imprisonment.

How to know if a company has a current business licence

The easiest way to check if a business has a currently-operating licence is by searching for them through Service NSW. You can either search for the company’s name, or their licene number.

In New South Wales, the fines for unlicensed electrical work range from $22,000 for people, to over $100,000 for businesses. In Queensland, a person can face up to $40,000 in fines just for doing electrical work, and over $100,000 if their electrical work results in any injuries.

While many people are aware trade companies have specific licenses, the majority of people only check that a company has a licence number, without also checking if the licence itself is current.

For example, at the bottom of every page of the Service Heroes website is the licence number (LIC#) for the parent company Mr Switch Electrical. By typing this number into the ABLIS search engine, you can see all of the current licences for the company.

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