What is an Electrical Contractor?
Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) is the energy safety regulator in Victoria and is responsible for electricity and gas safety. They are the organisation responsible for issuing electrical licences in Victoria. According to ESV, an Electrical Contractor is "a business, person or company employing electricians to carry out electrical installation work for profit".
To be Registered Electrical Contractor (REC), you must have the skills, experience, technical and business knowledge to undertake electrical installation work. After completing an application process to show you have these skills, experience and knowledge you will be issued an REC licence. This licence needs to be renewed every 5 years and can be restricted to certain classes of electrical work.
Registered Electrical Contractor Requirements
Aside from having a valid electrical contractors licence from ESV, what else does an REC need to have:
- Business Supervisor
This is the person responsible for the management and administration of the business. They need to have completed the Registered Electrical Contractors course or show equivalent qualifications.
- Technical Supervisor
This person oversees all electrical work and must have at least 10 years experience as an electrician and have completed the Licenced Electrician Assessment (or equivalent) within the last 5 years.
- Public Liability Insurance
An REC needs to have public liability insurance of at least $5 million held in the REC name.
Difference between an Electrician and an Electrical Contractor
So now we know what a registered electrical contractor is, where does an electrician fit in?
An electrician is a person who has completed an electrician apprenticeship or hold an equivalent qualification. They must also have completed the Licenced Electrician's Assessment in the last 5 years and hold an electrician's licence with ESV. An electrician is allowed to undertake electrical installation work, but not for profit or reward. In other words, they cannot charge you for work completed.
For an electrician to get paid, they need to either become a registered electrical contractor or get employment with a business that is.
So in other words, the electrical contractor is the business that you book and pay for electrical work and the electrician is the person who does the actual work.
Why it's important to use a Registered Electrical Contractor?
- Using a REC ensures that they have public liability insurance cover in the case of personal injury or damage to the property. This covers both the homeowner and the electrical company, as insurance companies will not cover unlicensed electrical work.
- Not only does the electrical contractor have insurance, they must also ensure that they have a qualified person to take responsibility for ensuring all electrical installation work is designed and executed in a compliant manner.
- Before you decide to hire an electrical contractor, you should always ensure they have the correct licenses which you can check through the Energy Safe Victoria website. If you hire a licensed electrician who doesn’t have their electrical contractor license, there is the possibility that the work they complete will not be safe and could put yourself and the property at risk.
How to check if a Registered Electrical Contractor?
The most important step in ensuring you're using a registered electrical contractor is to:
- Ask to see their licence and check for their REC licence number
- Check the licence is valid at Energy Safe Victoria website
Remember, a registered electrical contractor has higher qualifications and responsibilities to ensure they do electrical work to industry standards. They also have insurance to protect you and your property if anything goes wrong. So don't fall into the trap of using an unregistered electrician for any electrical work.