Australia is currently undergoing a review of its common rule
Modern Awards. The Modern Awards were introduced in 2010 and are
required to be reviewed by the Fair Work Commission
("FWC") every two years. The review commenced on 1
January 2012 and will encompass 122 different Modern Awards,
staggered over four stages. As part of the process, the FWC will
hear applications to change or vary existing Awards and make
decisions based on those applications. The Commission has already
made orders to vary certain awards, including the Clerks-Private
Sector Award 2010 and the Black Coal Mining Industry Award 2010,
Separately, the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, announced during
a speech she gave on 14 March 2013 that the Federal Government will
amend the Fair Work Act 2009 to enshrine penalty rates,
overtime, shift work loading and public holiday pay when Modern
Award rates and conditions are set in Modern Award.
Less than a week after the Government's announcement, the
FWC handed down a highly anticipated decision refusing to reduce
Sunday penalty rates in the hospitality and retail industries.
Although the FWC Full Bench recognised that the employers were
faced with high Sunday penalty rates compared to Saturday rates, it
was of the view that the evidence was not compelling enough to
warrant variations to those Modern Awards under review. This
decision follows the applications made by numerous employer groups
to modify the penalty rates and loadings in the General Retail
Industry Award, the Fast Food Industry Award, the Hospitality
Industry (General) Award, the Food, Beverage and Tobacco
Manufacturing Award and the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010.
The FWC Full Bench will continue to hear matters relating to
multiple awards, including a hearing in April regarding annual
leave. We will keep you posted of any further key developments in
the Modern Award review.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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Long experience representing many of Australia's leading employers has taught us that in employment litigation the identity of an employee's representative is a major factor in how employee litigation runs.
Australian employees receive certain entitlements (such as annual leave and superannuation) where contractors do not.
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