Contractor Prequalification is now open

What is Contractor Prequalification?

CAF Contractor Prequalification is a high-level systems, policies and processes assessment against the CAF Star Standards. Prequalification is designed to facilitate CAF Building Certification at a portfolio level leading to a more rigorous and efficient certification process.

Prequalification is not an assurance of compliance with labour standards at a building level. Click here for more information on the interaction between CAF Prequalification and CAF Certification.

Benefits of CAF Contractor Prequalification

A cleaning contractor that is CAF Prequalified can signal to existing and potential clients that the company has:

  • adequate management systems in place to provide correct wages and conditions and superannuation, including appropriate record keeping systems;
  • processes to educate cleaners about their workplace rights and conditions of employment policies, procedures and systems in place to provide cleaners with paid and unpaid leave entitlements;
  • systems to verify and monitor visa holders’ right to work in Australia
  • financial viability;
  • systems for the responsible management, monitoring and enforcement of labour subcontracting;
  • adequate WHS systems, policies and procedures to provide cleaners with a safe work environment;
  • mechanisms in place to reduce the risk of worker exploitation, e.g. sham contracting, underpayment, modern slavery, etc., and considered ways in which it can provide cleaners with job security at a change of contract.

Property owners, landlords and procuring parties that certify buildings where the contractor is CAF Prequalified will also benefit from a reduced certification fee and a more simplified assessment process.

Steps to becoming CAF Prequalified

Cleaning contractors that wish to become CAF Prequalified will go through the following steps:


Cleaning contractor submits an expression of interest using the online application form. This includes completing a self-assessment questionnaire (SAQ) with a minimum threshold requirement.

Eligibility screening

Phase 1: Initial screening

CAF will consider the application and SAQ and if the minimum threshold requirement has been met, will progress the application to Phase 2. CAF will issue an invoice to the company for a non-refundable deposit equivalent to 10% plus GST of the prequalification fee, which must be paid prior to moving to Phase 2. This amount will be deducted from the full assessment fee if the application progresses to this stage.

Phase 2: Screening reports

CAF screening report

  • If the contractor has participated in CAF Building Certification, CAF will review the compliance findings, investigation and remediation, and any other relevant information on file.

Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) screening report

  • FWO to review public records (e.g. compliance deeds, enforceable undertakings, penalties etc.) and non-public records (e.g. compliance notices) and provide a report to CAF.

United Workers Union (UWU) screening report

  • UWU to review its internal records (e.g. membership system, industrial records, legal cases etc.) and conduct interviews with UWU officials to identify any compliance issues.
  • Contractor to provide a list of cleaning worksites, employing entities, subcontractors and cleaners (employees and subcontracted staff) to UWU.
    • Contractor to facilitate access to chosen sites for the union to conduct paid time meetings (sample size).
    • UWU to run worker meetings at chosen sites, gather evidence of any issues or concerns through use of a standard survey. Note, at these meetings UWU may invite cleaners to join the union in accordance with the principle of freedom of association and industrial relations legislation.
  • UWU to provide a report to CAF on the above.

Phase 3: Eligibility determination

CAF assesses screening reports to determine whether the contractor is eligible to progress to the Prequalification assessment stage:

Report findingsOutcome
CAF determines no high-risk issues are present.Contractor progresses to Prequalification assessment.
CAF determines some high-risk issues are present but that these can be integrated into the prequalification assessment.Contractor progresses to Prequalification assessment. Additional assessment fees may apply and will be communicated and approved in advance.
CAF determines some high-risk issues are present and require follow up engagement between the contractor and UWU.1. CAF will provide UWU and the contractor with a list of issues that require follow-up.
2. UWU will provide the contractor with suggested investigation and remediation action.
3. Once the investigation and remediation is complete, UWU will submit a follow-up report to CAF (including where the contractor does not engage with UWU).
4. CAF to assess follow-up report and either proceed or not proceed with the application.
5. If the application proceeds, CAF will adapt the assessment to focus on high-risk areas, which may come at an additional cost.
CAF determines serious or numerous risks are present.Contractor will not proceed to the Prequalification assessment stage. The contractor will be able to reapply after a period of 6 months.
If the contractor passes the eligibility screening, they will move to the Prequalification assessment stage.

Prequalification assessment

Cleaning contractors will be assessed against the CAF 3 Star Standard. An outline of the assessment is provided in the table below. The assessment will be conducted by a registered auditor selected by CAF, followed by a process of investigation and remediation conducted by CAF. The application will then be assessed by the CAF Certification Panel. If all issues have been satisfactorily addressed, the contractor will be awarded CAF Contractor Prequalification.

Prior to commencing the assessment, contractors will be issued with an invoice for the remainder of the prequalification fee, which must be paid prior to the assessment.

CAF 3 Star RequirementPrequalification criteria
1. LabourCleaning Contractor has appropriate Labour management practices (systems, policies, and procedures) in place to facilitate:

• Maintaining regulatory compliant payroll management systems;
• Compliance with applicable Award/Agreements with regard to the payment of wages and entitlements;
• Compliance with applicable Award/Agreements and National Employment Standards with regard to accrual of leave and administration of paid and unpaid leave entitlements;
• Compliance with statutory PAYG tax and superannuation requirements, including remittance to required authorities in a timely manner;
• Compliance with record-keeping laws;
• Right to work in Australia checks and monitoring;
• Provision of paid induction and training to employees;
• Provision of job security to cleaners at change of contract;
• Employees’ right to join and actively participate in their union. Contractor respects and supports the role played by workplace representatives, including CAF Representatives;
• Management and prevention of bullying and harassment;
2. Responsible Contracting - SubcontractingCleaning contractor has adequate processes in place prior to subcontracting of non-specialist cleaning services, including undertaking due diligence of suppliers, standardisation of service agreements, assessment of the adequacy of pricing to ensure the subcontractor is able to meet minimum legal commitments to its staff, obtainment of approvals and insurances prior to subcontracting, and monitoring and enforcing subcontractors’ compliance with labour standards.
3. Safe Working ConditionsCleaning contractor maintains compliance with WHS/OHS obligations including operating a WHS/OHS system that complies with legislative requirements and ensuring appropriate insurance is in place.

Cleaning contractor has adequate systems, policies and procedures in relation to:
• Provision of workplace health and safety induction and training;
• The election of health and safety representatives in accordance with relevant state legislation;
• Providing cleaners with sufficient time, serviceable equipment and time to safely complete their duties to the required standards.
• Ensuring that cleaners are not directed to perform unsafe work.
4. Financial ViabilityContractor maintains an operationally and financially viable business to enable the contractor to meet all their financial obligations to creditors, including sufficient funds to safeguard worker entitlements.

Cleaning contractor has governance measures in place to prevent fraud or any form of corrupt conduct.
5. Worker EngagementAppropriate policy and procedures to facilitate genuine workplace consultation.

Contractor proactively engages with worker representatives (the union) in relation to issues which might lead to disputation or where changes to the workplace are being considered or have been decided.
6. Issue Identification and RemediationContractor demonstrates adequate processes are in place for cleaners to raise issues with their employer.

Contractor demonstrates that issues relating to potential breaches of employees’ workplace rights are adequately investigated and promptly remediated.

Contractor demonstrates adequate processes that ensure that work performance issues are dealt with in a fair and transparent manner which takes into consideration the employees’ level of English language, experience with Australian workplace laws and allows them sufficient time to seek representation.


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

Fees exclude the cost of 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 is estimated to be around $7,000 (excl. GST).

What happens once I am Prequalified?

Upon successful completion of the CAF Contractor Prequalification assessment, the contractor will receive a certificate, be listed in our directory, provided the Prequalified Contractor badge and guide, as well as access to the CAF Learning Hub for training all employees on CAF Standards.

Annual renewals

CAF Prequalified Contractors will be required to renew their Prequalification annually. This will involve an interview-based assessment and implementation of any updated CAF requirements. A supplementary defined scope assessment may be required if there have been any significant material changes to the business or any systemic non-compliance identified over the previous year.

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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.