Modern Awards in Practice

Modern Awards

Modern Awards in Practice

Modern Awards are the result of over one hundred years of industrial relations practices in Australia. Despite their historic place in Australia’s workplaces, interpreting awards remains a challenge for employers and employees alike, with even the Fair Work Commission (FWC) acknowledging the need to create a simplified, standard language that is consistent across all awards in its current review to give workplaces the best opportunity to succeed.

Workplace conditions have been regulated by a number of different bodies: industrial relations tribunals (currently called the FWC), the Parliament and the courts. It is this complexity of multiple bodies influencing workplaces that has left the ordinary business owner throwing their hands in the air and asking, ‘What do I need to know about employing my staff here?’
Understanding how the award operates is intrinsic to ensuring a business meets its compliance obligations successfully, and this relates to all parts of your business that have to do with the operations of people. Whilst the reduction of awards and aligned clauses has done much to ease complications for business, challenges remain. The modern awards are reviewed every 4 years, and the current review is seeking to further align clauses across multiple awards to a ‘standard clause’, where non-industry specific conditions can be implemented in the same way to reduce the confusion for businesses that operate across multiple awards.

For example, the FWC has recently handed down the decision for a majority of modern awards to now include the availability of cashing out annual leave and the opportunity to take leave in advance of accrual. Employees will be able to access these changes to their annual leave conditions by mutual consent using a written agreement.

For those in payroll, a new graduate starting out in HR or rostering coordinators, the modern award may seem like a strange, unmanageable riddle. How do I know which other clauses to take into consideration when an employee is working across the weekend? What other conditions do I need to be aware of when a staff member goes on a sleepover? What other regulatory requirements do I need to take into account? Once you learn about how an award operates, it’s easy to see how the puzzle pieces fit together.

To learn more, come along to Pinnacle HR’s upcoming training session on 24 August 2016: Modern Awards in Practice.