Contractor Prequalification

What is Contractor Prequalification?

CAF Contractor Prequalification is a high-level systems, policies and processes assessment of a cleaning contractor against the CAF 3 Star Standard.

What is the aim of Contractor Prequalification?

The overall objective of the Contractor Prequalification scheme is to facilitate CAF Building Certification at a portfolio level leading to a more rigorous and efficient certification process. To achieve Prequalification, the Cleaning Contractor needs to demonstrate compliance against the following criteria:

  • Fair Labour Practices
  • Responsible Contracting and Transparency
  • Safe working conditions
  • Financial viability
  • Worker engagement
  • Issue identification and remediation

How is Contractor Prequalification different from Building Certification?

Unlike Building Certification, Contractor Prequalification does not assess labour standards at an individual cleaner level. It is almost impossible to assess employee conditions by simply assessing the supplier – unfortunately this is a deficiency of many social auditing and due diligence mechanisms as they are lacking the voice of the worker.

Contractor Prequalification is designed to create efficiencies in the CAF Building Certification process by providing documents that apply across the organisation just once as part of the Prequalification assessment, reducing the number of documents requested as part of the certification assessment.

Using a CAF Prequalified Contractor alone is not enough to demonstrate that cleaners’ labour rights at an individual building are being respected. This is because the Prequalification assessment process is focused on management systems, policies and procedures – checking that the right systems are in place at head office to facilitate compliance at an individual level.

PrequalContractor Graphic FA

Prequalification is not a certification or an endorsement of the cleaning company; rather it is a systems check. CAF Building Certification is an implementation check of these systems as part of the assessment of the entire supply chain. Certification is the only way to verify whether cleaners are being treated fairly and are receiving their full wages and entitlements.

View a detailed comparison of contractor prequalification vs building certification

The table below outlines the different kinds of checks undertaken in a CAF assessment for contractor prequalification vs building certification.

Examples of components assessedCAF Contractor PrequalificationCAF Building Certification
Payroll and attendance system
e.g. Assessment of payroll system, policies and procedures and adequacy of controls within the payroll system and attendance system to ensure that correct wages, tax, and super are paid.e.g. Worker verification that correct wages and entitlements are being paid to verify correct payroll implementation.
Personal leave entitlements
e.g. Assessment of the company’s personal leave policy to ensure that it is aligned with minimum legal requirements. e.g. Worker verification that personal leave entitlements are administered according to the policy.
Induction and traininge.g. Assessment of employee induction and training materials.e.g. Assessment of training records for the site;

e.g. Worker verification that cleaners are receiving sufficient training to do their job safely.
Bullying and harassment
e.g. Assessment of policy and procedure to support workers to raise grievances and/or instances of bullying and harassment. e.g. Worker engagement to assess whether the workplace is free of bullying and harassment and/or to assess whether policy and procedure is implemented effectively.
Provision of chemicals, equipment, materials and PPEe.g. Assessment of systems in place to provide, replace or repair chemicals, equipment, materials and PPE. e.g. Worker verification that cleaners have access to all the chemicals, equipment, materials and PPE they need.
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CAF Contractor Prequalification Information Session

Presented by Dr Miriam Thompson and featuring guest speaker, Steven Peters, Sustainability Manager with ISPT. This presentation is relevant for both cleaning contractors and procurers of cleaning services. To view the responses provided to the attendee questions, see Prequal frequently asked questions below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between Prequalified and Qualified?

There is no Qualification or Certification scheme for cleaning contractors within CAF. CAF Contractor Prequalification is the main mechanism for cleaning contractors to be involved in CAF. Through CAF Contractor Prequalification, CAF verifies that a cleaning contractors’ HR systems, policies and procedures are correctly set up to facilitate CAF Building Certification at a portfolio level. You can think of CAF Contractor Prequalification as a systems check and the first step on the way to helping your clients achieve CAF Building Certification at their assets.

Does achieving Contractor Prequalification mean the contractor is CAF Certified or Accredited?

No, CAF doesn’t certify cleaning contractors. CAF only certifies buildings and the certification is therefore held by the owner of the property. CAF will never certify cleaning contractors because we understand that addressing the exploitation of cleaners is not the sole responsibility of cleaning contractors. Procurers and property owners are also responsible and play a key role, namely through contract pricing.

If a building owner achieves CAF Certification for a building, does the cleaning contractor automatically become Prequalified?

No. While CAF Building Certification and CAF Contractor Prequalification are designed to complement each other, they are two separate schemes, and participation in one does not trigger awarding of the other.

The objective of the CAF Contractor Prequalification is to assess whether the management systems used by the contractor are adequate for the building or precinct to facilitate compliance with the CAF Star Standard. In practice, this means that a CAF Prequalified Contractor can provide documents that apply across the entire organisation just once during the prequalification assessment, so that during the building certification, assessments can focus on the implementation of best practices, policies and procedures at the site level. In short, CAF Contractor Prequalification is a systems check, whereas CAF Building Certification is best understood as an implementation check.

Can a building owner achieve CAF Certification for a building if their cleaning contractor is not prequalified?

Yes. However, a building which has a CAF Prequalified Contractor operating provides a greater level of assurance around decent working conditions for cleaners, as the level of checks undertaken as part of the CAF Contractor Prequalification process are quite substantial. Through CAF Contractor Prequalification, CAF does an in-depth assessment of a cleaning contractors’ HR systems, policies and procedures, whereas in CAF Building Certification the focus is more on the implementation of best practices, policies and procedures.

What is the importance of the contractor and union relationship as part of Contractor Prequalification?

Worker engagement is at the heart of CAF certification, and is often the most effective mechanism for identifying compliance issues in relation to labour standards. Building some level of worker engagement into the process is essential for ensuring the integrity of CAF Contractor Prequalification, so that when a contractor becomes Prequalified it is a clear mark of quality and point of market differentiation.

In order for contractors to be able to successfully participate in CAF building and portfolio certification, contractors need to demonstrate that they are able to have a working relationship with the union, who represent the cleaning workforce. CAF Contractor Prequalification provides

contractors who have no prior experience or engagement with CAF or the union with the opportunity to get “CAF ready” and to work together in the spirit of transparency to investigate and remediate any issues, so that industry standards can be lifted.

As a procurer of cleaning services, does engaging a CAF Prequalified Contractor guarantee that cleaning services will be delivered sustainably at my sites?

No. Working with a CAF Prequalified Contractor alone is not enough to demonstrate that cleaners’ labour rights are being respected at an individual building. This is because CAF Contractor Prequalification is focussed on management systems, policies and procedures – checking that the right systems are in place at head office to facilitate compliance at site level. Moreover, cleaning services can only be delivered sustainably if the procurer plays their part by ensuring a fair contract price and by implementing adequate oversight mechanisms.

The only way to be sure that management systems are being implemented effectively – that is, that cleaners are indeed being treated fairly, and are receiving their full wages and entitlements – is through assessment of an individual building. Procurers of cleaning services should pursue CAF Building Certification in order to have assurance of labour standards compliance in their cleaning supply chain.

What will the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) be looking at as part of the screening process?

The FWO will review public records, such as compliance deeds, enforceable undertakings, penalties, and non-public records, such as compliance notices, as part of the CAF Contractor Prequalification eligibility screening process. They will then provide a report to CAF on the above.

What will the United Workers Union (UWU) be looking at as part of the screening process?

UWU will review its internal records, such as membership system, industrial records, legal cases to identify any compliance issues. Each contractor is then asked to provide a list of all cleaning worksites and relevant workforce information for each worksite to the union, including the number of cleaning hours per week and the number of directly employed cleaners.

The contractor then facilitates paid time meetings at a sample of worksites selected by the union to gather feedback from workers on working conditions and evidence on any issues or concerns. The union meetings provide cleaners with an opportunity to discuss workplace matters and participate in a standard survey, as well as find out more about their workplace standards and rights by joining the union. UWU will then provide a report to CAF on the above.

Which external auditors will CAF engage for the Contractor Prequalification process?

For CAF Contractor Prequalification, CAF will be working with a panel of auditors that will be appointed and trained by CAF to assess cleaning contractor’s systems, policies and procedures against the CAF 3 Star Standard.

How long does Prequalification last?

The CAF Contractor Prequalification certificate will cover a period of one year, after which time an annual renewal process will take place. The contractor will also be subject to annual payment of fees and ongoing obligations.

To ensure ongoing compliance by the cleaning contractor, CAF will look at various factors to determine the annual renewal process. The process could include:

  • A self-assessment questionnaire
  • Submission of documentation
  • Upgrade to the latest version of the CAF Standard, including implementation of any new policies and agreements
  • If company-wide compliance issues are identified through CAF Building Certification (e.g. non-compliant employment policies or procedures), the contractor will need to demonstrate remediation at a company level

Will CAF protect the confidential and commercially sensitive information of contractors that is received through the Prequalification process?

Where necessary, a Confidentiality Agreement will be entered into (between the Cleaning Contractor and auditor) in relation to proprietary documentation that may be submitted by the Cleaning Contractor to demonstrate compliance with the assessment criteria.

Approximately how long will the CAF Contractor Prequalification process take?

The CAF Contractor Prequalification process will take 3 months from beginning to end, which includes the initial eligibility screening process, assessment of the contractor, and investigation and remediation of any issues that come out of the assessment.

What are the annual costs of CAF Contractor Prequalification?

Annual company revenue  CAF Prequalification fees (annual) 
<$50m  $12,000 (excl. GST) 
$50m – $100m  $14,000 (excl. GST) 
$100m – $500m  $16,000 (excl. GST) 
>$500m  $20,000 (excl. GST) 

Fees exclude the cost of the assessment conducted by an external auditor as part of the application. This fee will vary depending on the nature of the assessment, however for a standard assessment where no subcontracting occurs, and the contractor only has one entity, it is estimated to be around $7,000 (excl. GST).

Applicants will be required to pay 10% + GST of the applicable annual Prequalification fee in order to move into phase 2 of the eligibility screening.

Applicants will be required to pay the balance + GST of the applicable annual Prequalification fee, as well as the external auditor cost, in order to progress to Step 3: Prequalification assessment.

Has CAF considered a lower fee to encourage smaller cleaning contractors to participate?

CAF has considered its feasibility of Contractor Prequalification for smaller companies. However, the current Contractor Prequalification scheme is closely aligned with CAF Building Certification, which currently operates at the larger end of the property market. As CAF grows, we hope to accommodate smaller sites for Building Certification as well as smaller contractors for CAF Contractor Prequalification.

How will being a CAF Prequalified Contractor help my business?

CAF offers Prequalified Contractors a badge that may be used across your marketing channels to show your company’s achievement. You can include the CAF Contractor Prequalification badge on your company website, social media channels, and in printed brochures, tender documents, annual reports and internal documents.

A building owner will be interested to engage with a CAF Prequalified Contractor because they understand that the cleaning contractors’ HR systems, policies and procedures have already been assessed by CAF, and are correctly set up for the contractor to be part of CAF Building Certification and facilitate portfolio wide assessment.

Will every contractor that applies for CAF Contractor Prequalification get to proceed with the eligibility screening and assessment process?

CAF aims to put 6 contractors through the CAF Contractor Prequalification process over the next financial year. Unfortunately, this means that not every contractor that applies will be selected for the program. Meeting the Self-Assessment Questionnaire threshold is not a guarantee that you will proceed.

CAF Contractor Prequalification is designed to allow CAF to scale up its Building Certification program. Therefore, CAF will be prioritising contractors who have previously been involved in CAF through building certification and contractors that provide services within the portfolios of property owners involved in CAF.