COVID-19 relief package – temporary waiver of plumbers’ fees

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On 31 March 2020, the Western Australian Government announced a $1 billion COVID-19 health and economic relief package to support Western Australian small and medium-sized businesses. The package included waiving a significant number of fees for 12 months to help businesses survive the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For licensed plumbers, the COVID-19 relief package includes:

  • waiving fees for plumbing licences and permits for 12 months from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021;
  • waiving plumbing notification and compliance fees (including fixture fees) for 12 months from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.

These periods are referred to as the fee-waiver period.

Which plumbing fees are being waived?

All fees listed in Schedule 1 of the Plumbers Licensing and Plumbing Standards Regulations 2000 (WA) (Plumbing Regulations) are to be waived for the duration of the applicable fee-waiver period.

This includes all fees relating to applying for, being issued with or renewing any type of plumber’s licence or a restricted plumbing permit, as well as all fees relating to notices of intention, compliance certificates, installation (fixture) fees, purchases of drainage plumbing diagrams, and reinspections.

Licence and permit fees

I have received a licence renewal form. Do I need to pay the fees associated with renewing my licence or permit?

If you lodge your application to renew your licence or permit between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, you will not be required to pay the associated fee.

I have already renewed my licence or permit – can I get a refund?

If you renewed your licence or permit on or after 1 April 2020 and paid the associated fee at that time, you will receive a refund by electronic funds transfer in due course.

Please only contact us to enquire about your refund if you have not received it by 30 June 2020.

Do I have to apply for my refund?

No.

Eligible payments received on or after 1 April 2020 will be automatically refunded to you by electronic funds transfer.

Please only contact us to enquire about your refund if you have not received it by 30 June 2020.

Does the fee waiver also apply to first-time applications for a plumbing licence or permit made during the waiver period?

Yes.

If you apply for a licence or permit for the first time at any stage between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021, you do not have to pay any associated fees.

If you have submitted an application for a licence or permit since 1 April 2020 and paid the associated fees at that time, you will be eligible for a refund. The refund will be processed automatically and will be paid to you by electronic funds transfer. You do not need to make an application for the refund.

Please only contact us to enquire about your refund if you have not received it by 30 June 2020.

I obtained/renewed my licence/permit prior to 1 April 2020. As the period of my licence/permit covers the 12-month fee-waiver period, can I get a refund of any of the fee I paid?

No.

The economic relief package for business and occupational licence fees applies to the 12-month period between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.  This period is intended to provide financial relief totalling more than $34 million during the time of the most significant impact of COVID-19 on WA businesses and the community. 

The WA Government has also provided other assistance worth $114 million to the community and small and medium-sized businesses. The assistance includes:

  • a one-off $2500 credit on electricity bills for small businesses; 
  • no utility disconnections or charging of interest on deferred electricity payments; 
  • waiving licence fees for businesses in industries such as hospitality, tourism, retail and building trades; 
  • waiving liquor licence renewal fees for 2020, with refunds provided to businesses that have already paid; 
  • increasing the payroll tax exemption threshold to $1 million from 1 July 2020; 
  • providing a one-off grant of $17,500 to businesses with a reconciled 2018-19 Australia-wide payroll of between $1 million and $4 million; 
  • waiving payroll tax for four months from 1 March to 30 June 2020 for businesses with an Australia-wide payroll of less than $7.5 million; 
  • waiving rent for small businesses in WA Government-owned buildings until 30 September 2020, including convenience stores in train stations, cafés in government buildings, restaurants in tourism precincts such as Elizabeth Quay and Yagan Square, and eligible small businesses leasing land from the WA Government, such as caravan park and eco-tourism operators;  
  • alternative tax payment arrangements; 
  • waiving late payment penalties for payroll tax, transfer duty, landholder duty, vehicle licence duty or land tax. 

A $24.5-million support package will assist the building and construction industry to maintain a skilled workforce during the COVID-19 crisis. The package includes: 

  • $10 million to provide an immediate, one-off payment of $2000 to employers of existing apprentices and trainees currently receiving Construction Training Fund grant payments;  
  • a $9.5 million grants scheme to assist employers to retain their existing apprentices, with payments beginning from 1 June 2020, backdated from 1 April 2020. Payments can range from $250 to $500 per month, per apprentice or trainee, depending on the trades facing the most critical skills shortages in the industry;  
  • Up to $1000 for apprentices and trainees employed in the industry to support the costs of undertaking short courses to assist in upskilling; 
  • bringing forward funds in a $150-million housing investment package to help maintain a pipeline of work for local tradespeople and building businesses.

What if my licence or permit expires in April/May/June of 2021 – can I apply for my renewal early so I don’t have to pay the fee?

The Plumbing Regulations allow renewal applications to be lodged up to 12 weeks before the expiry date.  If the date ton which you are allowed to lodge a renewal application falls before 1 April 2021, you can lodge your renewal application before that date and the fee will be waived.  Otherwise, you will not be able to obtain a fee waiver.

Notification and certification requirements

As I am no longer required to pay fees for Notices of Intention (NOI) and Certificates of Compliance (COC), does this mean that I do not need to submit those certificates during the fee-waiver period?

No.

Under Western Australia’s self-certification framework for plumbing work, it is essential that licensed plumbing contractors continue to submit notices of intention at least 24 hours prior to commencing major plumbing work and submit the associated certificate of compliance within five working days of completing that work.

The self-certification process is intended to protect consumers by providing certainty that plumbing work has been performed in accordance with the relevant standards.

Penalties apply if these requirements are not complied with. Plumbing inspectors will be actively enforcing these requirements during the fee-waiver period.

Can I still use the Plumbing eNotice system to lodge NOIs and COCs during the fee-waiver period?

Yes.

The Plumbing eNotice system is being updated so that plumbers can continue to lodge their compliance notices electronically without having to make the payment that would normally be required at the time of lodgement.

I have received an infringement notice for failing to submit a notice of intention or certificate of compliance as required. Do I still have to pay the fine?

Yes.

The waiving of fees does not exempt licensed plumbing contractors and restricted plumbing permit holders from the requirement to submit a NOI or COC within prescribed timeframes.

If an infringement notice is issued for failing to comply with these requirements (or for any other reason), the infringement notice remains enforceable throughout the fee-waiver period.

I lodged my NOI before the start of the fee waiver period but didn’t carry out the work until after the fee-waiver period started. Can I get a refund for the notice and any fixture fees I submitted with it?

No.

The fee waiver only applies to NOIs and associated fixture fees lodged on and from 1 July 2020 until the end of the fee-waiver period on 30 June 2021. Any fees paid prior to 1 July 2020 will not be refunded, irrespective of when the work was carried out.

I am a builder/homeowner who had plumbing work performed by a licensed plumber after the start of the fee-waiver period. Part of the charge for the plumbing work included a payment to cover the compliance fees and fixture fees. As those fees are not payable by the plumber during the fee-waiver period, can I get that money back?

This is a contractual matter between you and the plumber.

There are no rules governing how a plumber accounts for the fees he is required to pay in relation to carrying out plumbing work. However, it is common practice for licensed plumbers to pass on compliance fees and fixture fees to their customers. This may be shown as a line item on the invoice he or she issues, or it could be included in his or her overall charge for the job.

If you think you have been charged for fees that are not applicable under the fee-waiver relief package, you should speak to your plumber.

Miscellaneous fees

I have been issued a rectification notice by the Plumbers Licensing Board. Do I still need to pay any fees associated with the reinspection?

Provided the reinspection occurs during the period 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021, you will not be required to pay any reinspection fees. If the reinspection occurs before 1 July 2020 or after 30 June 2021, then the full reinspection fee will be payable.

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