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Guest Writer Series, February: Award. What Award?


In February’s “Guest Writer Series”, Natasha Hawker from Employee Matters, talks about Awards. Not many things are more important than making sure your Awards are correct. Your business reputation relies on it!

Read Natasha’s article, it details what you need to know about Awards!

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Do you know what Award your employees are covered under? Does it matter?

The simple answer is yes it does and more than you think! In Australia we previously had over 1700 awards in use – how confusing! It has now been simplified into 122 Modern Awards which became effective on 1st January 2010. Most of these awards have transitional provisions to phase in changes in wages, loadings and penalties over a 5 year period.

Employers and employees in the national system have the same workplace rights and obligations, regardless of the state they work in. Features of the national industrial relations system include:

  • a set of 10 minimum National Employment Standards (NES)
  • modern awards that apply nationally for specific industries and occupations
  • a national minimum wage order (where it applies)
  • enterprise bargaining
  • protection from unfair dismissal

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So why does it matter? Well, remember the ‘good ole days’ when as long as you paid above the award then none of the other requirements of the award were applicable to you? That is no longer the case. Regardless of paying above the award, all the other conditions of the Modern Award must be met; otherwise, you are in breach of the award and breaches attract civil penalties.

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So what do you need to do?

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1. Identify what award covers your workplace

2. Check whether the terms and conditions of employment have changed

3. Review and update employment contracts and / or policies to reflect the changes to terms and conditions

4. Consider appropriate award classification levels – minimum wages, allowances penalties and loadings

5. Ensure compliance with non-monetary provisions of the Award, for example consultation about change, dispute resolution

6. Consider options to exempt high income award covered employees, for example guarantee their annual earnings

7. Consider how to transition existing employees to new rates of pay

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The ombudsman, so far, is taking a fairly relaxed approach to transition and subsequent breaches. They will generally just ensure that you move employees across, however, if you continue to breach, the full impact of legislation will hit and this includes significant fines.

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Natasha Hawker owns Employee Matters Pty Ltd; an HR Consultancy that assists small to medium businesses with their HR functions to make them more efficient and profitable. Their offering includes HR Management, Recruitment, Training, Coaching, and Exit Management – find out more here.