In March 2008, after the Transition to Forward with Fairness
legislation came into effect, the Minister for Employment and
Workplace Relations requested the Australian Industrial Relations
Commission ("AIRC") to modernise awards.
The object of award modernisation is to simplify and streamline
thousands of state and federal awards throughout Australia and to
make them easy to apply.
Modern Awards together with the National Employment Standards
and National Minimum Wage Orders make up the guaranteed safety net
of enforceable minimum terms and conditions which the Fair Work
Bill seeks to establish.
Modern Awards will come into effect on 1 January 2010 from which
time they will be administered by a new body, namely Fair Work
Contents of Modern Awards
Modern Awards are intended to build on the 10 National
Employment Standards ("NES"). They:
10 additional conditions of employment including: minimum
wages, types of employment, overtime, allowances and penalty
industry specific redundancy schemes;
terms dealing with cashing out of annual leave and personal
leave and averaging of hours of work.
a flexibility clause that will enable an employer and an
individual employee to negotiate an individual flexibility
arrangement which can vary aspects of the award (e.g. overtime
rates, penalty rates and allowances). However, the employee must
not be disadvantaged as a result of entering into this
coverage terms setting out the employers, employees,
organisations and outworker entities that are covered by the
relevant award. However, Modern Awards will not apply to high
income employees (with guaranteed annual earnings of more than
$100,000.00 p/a or prorata for part-time employees indexed each
a term providing a procedure for settling disputes about any
matter arising under the award and in relation to the NES;
terms regarding the ordinary hours of work for each
classification and each type of employment in the award;
where FWA considers it appropriate, terms providing for the
automatic variation of allowances when wage rates in the award are
must not include terms that are:
"objectionable" in that they deal with payment of a
bargaining services fee or permit a breach of the general
protections in the FW Bill (regarding the rights and
responsibilities of employers, employees, organisations etc.)
about payments and deductions for the benefit of the
about rights of entry;
deal with long service leave or contain certain state based
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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