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Full Statement here.

Introduction

A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has issued a Statement about its four yearly review of Modern Awards, stating that some 2.2 million employees have their pay set by a modern award. Prior to the commencement of modern awards on 1 January 2010 there were 3323 instruments (including State and federal awards) setting pay and conditions across the country.

There are now 121 modern awards. Substantially decreasing the number of awards has reduced the incidence of multiple modern awards applying in one enterprise and has made it easier to identify the applicable modern award. In research undertaken by the Commission in 2016, employee and employer organisation participants acknowledged that the modern award system was a ‘vast improvement’ on the previous system.

Simplification

Simplifying the language and structure of modern awards has been a central focus of the Review. At the start of the Review, the Commission engaged with small businesses and interested parties to make awards simpler and easier to understand and apply. The objective has been to produce redrafted modern awards that can be read by an employer or employee without needing a history lesson or paid advocate to interpret how the award applies in the workplace.

  1. Standard clauses have been redrafted in plain language.
  2. A schedule of hourly rates has been included to provide a calculated wage rate rather than a percentage of the hourly rate and avoid the need for employers and employees to make calculations.
  3. A new model provision about how and when employees must be paid outstanding wages and other amounts due when employment ends has been included.
  4. The National Training Wage Schedule has been standardised and removed from most modern awards except for the Miscellaneous Award 2010. The Schedule has been incorporated into other awards by reference to the Miscellaneous Award 2010.
  5. Award terms that were inconsistent with the National Employment Standard have been removed.
  6. All outdated transitional provisions have been removed.

New award provisions

The following additional award provisions have been inserted into all modern awards following claims by industrial parties during the Review:

  1. An entitlement to 5 days’ unpaid leave to deal with family and domestic violence. 14
  2. A right to request conversion from casual employment to part-time or full-time employment.

3, A right to request flexible working arrangements in certain circumstances.

  1. Three new provisions relating to annual leave which allow employers and employees to more effectively manage their leave; firstly a term allowing employees to cash out annual leave; secondly a term which allows employees to apply for and take leave in advance of the entitlement to leave accruing and thirdly a provision which allows employers to direct employees to take leave in circumstances where they have an excessive leave balance. Template agreements for cashing out annual leave and taking annual leave in advance were included as schedules to each modern award.
  2. The provisions about taking time off in lieu of payment for overtime (TOIL) were standardised in the 21 modern awards that had such a term prior to the Review. A TOIL term was also inserted in 92 other modern awards that did not previously provide this flexibility. A template agreement for TOIL was inserted as a schedule to each of the relevant modern awards.

Plain language

A Plain Language Full Bench was established to oversee the plain language project, which included:

  • The production of plain language guidelines;
  • Redrafting selected awards in plain language;
  • Redrafting standard clauses in all modern awards;
  • Redrafting the national training wage schedule.

Commentary

This statement goes to reinforce my previous views that the under and overpayment of employees has risen to the level of incompetency, never seen before. How on earth can accounting packages (presumably) can get the nuances of the complexity of tax law right; but the simplicity of paying someone correctly so wrong?

My advice: when choosing a payroll system – choose wisely; and preferably one that is Australian developed and maintained (and yes you MUST subscribe to software updates).