The Employer’s Agent sits between its client and the contractor, representing their interests throughout a Building Contract, to ensure budgets are met, work is completed on time, safety procedures are followed, and the desired quality standards are received.
The Employer’s Agent’s role is usually provided on a Design and Build project, so the Employer has less to deal with, in terms of both the project team and external third parties. With the Employer only having one party – their appointed agent – to manage, the benefits start early on.
The Employer’s Agent’s duties are usually stated within the Contract and can be summarised as acting on behalf of the Employer on specific if not all matters, including receiving and issuing applications, consents, instructions, notices, requests or statements. In other words, Employer’s Agents manage the project’s delivery, advising the client on all actions in the project’s Appointment Documents and Contract by drawing on industry knowledge, providing balance through their unbiased view.
Some clients appoint Employer’s Agents at project inception stage, who will advise on pre-tender planning, finance, contractual and other issues, then prepare the tender documents. However, the true role of an Employer’s Agent starts around the tender stage, prior to the appointment of the contractor. The Employer’s Agent must be an entity who the Employer entrusts to manage the project. Other parties may also be appointed by the Employer, but only one acts as the Employer’s Agent under the Design and Build Contract meaning these other parties have no authority to issue instructions, statements, notices etc.
Before the Contract is awarded, the Employer’s Agent may need to coordinate the Tender and novation of Consultants involved, collating Contract documents and arranging change control and reporting procedures. After the Contract is awarded, the Employer’s Agent is required to manage those procedures, whilst overseeing tasks including:
- Co-ordinating the review of design information and obtaining clients’ approvals
- Reviewing the progress of the work
- Providing regular reports to the client
- Certifying payments and practical completion, including arrangement of snagging and commissioning
- Assisting in the prevention or settlement of disputes and agreeing and certifying the final account
Finally, the Employer’s Agent manages the rectification period and issues the Notice of Completion of making good. Skilled Employer’s Agents should prevent legal disputes arising during the post-Contract phase.
Owing in part to the increased use of Design and Build as a procurement solution, the role of the Employer’s Agent is a service regularly provided by Trident. This service allows the Employer to transfer design and construction risk to the Building Contractor with a competent Employer’s Agent providing direction and management throughout the project, controlling the scope, cost, quality and time. The Employer’s Agent is fundamental to the communication of the progress of the project to the team and all stakeholders.
Employer’s Agents at their core provide effective management that disciplines the Employer, retains risk transfer and cost certainty which helps to deliver a successful project, through consistent and objective advice, so that the best interests of the project are honoured.