Modern Awards – Do you comply?

 In Employers Tips

Modern Awards confusionAs of January 1st this year, all employers and employees in the national workplace relations system are affected by modern awards. Prior to the modern awards under the federal awards or NAPSA, only the constitutional corporation needed to comply with the national system. As of Jan 1st 2010 sole traders, partnerships and other unincorporated entities and non-trading corporations in New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania join in the national system, rather than their own specific state systems have moved into the national system.

Western Australia has not joined the national system. Some employers (essentially incorporated entities) and their employees are covered by the national system, but sole traders, partnerships, other unincorporated entities and non-trading corporations and their employees will continue to operate under the WA state system (though some of these may be covered by transitional awards until 27 March 2011).

business team worriesThe transition of getting over 2000 awards into 122 has proven to be very confusing for most businesses. 77.6% of Queensland businesses are requesting further information kits and 69.5% businesses want further seminars, according to CCIQ recent survey. So, if you feel uncertain with our new national systems, don’t be alarmed, you are not alone.

In March 2008, Julia Gillard asked the Australian Industrial Relations Commission to simplify and consolidate our award system and to create new modern awards which would not disadvantage employees or increase cost to employers. The end result has proven to be quite different�..

Some award conditions have increased, including allowances, whilst other conditions are potentially leading to disadvantaging the employees.

Some awards extended their coverage to sectors such as call centres, IT, financial planners and insurance providers to name a few. People working in some of these sectors will be covered by awards for the first time.

Some sectors such as retail and hospitality have changed the casual loading from 20% to 25%. These industries both rely on casual employees to a large degree, so this change will have a substantial impact on costs. Browse through our Cairns Jobs – we are specializing in the hospitality sector.

Superannuation threshold in some awards has been decreased from $450.00 per month to $350.00 per month.

The changes have significantly added to the cost and complexity to being an employer and have subsequently increased the overall level of red tape impacting business, without any additional benefits being realised yet.

Due to the complexities of the new awards we advise businesses of the need to identify what modern award covers their employees, and thoroughly read through their award to ensure that they comply.

Some of the points to especially look out for are:

  • Allowances
  • Casual loading
  • Superannuation threshold
  • Overtime and penalty rates
  • Flexibility on part time hours
  • Personal/Carer’s Leave
  • Community service leaves
  • Know NES (go to our Jan newsletter to learn more)

Transitional arrangements in most modern awards mean that rates of pay and certain other conditions do not come into force until 1 July 2010 and may be phased in over time. However, not all modern awards contain these transitional arrangements. Employers should check their modern award to determine if these arrangements apply.
If a modern award contains transitional arrangements, any increases or decreases in wages, loadings and penalty rates may be phased in from 1 July 2010.

This includes:

  • minimum wages
  • casual and part-time loadings
  • Saturday, Sunday and public holiday penalty rates
  • evening and other penalty rates
  • shift allowances.

For further information on your rights and obligations under Commonwealth workplace laws, please contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.

Alternatively, for information on the award modernisation process, contact Fair Work Australia on

1300 799 675.

Click here for: Fair Work online for employers

CCIQ has identified the chaos that these new modern awards and Fair Work Act has brought to the business community and are running courses. You can contact them on 1300 138 470 to make a booking.

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