What Are Modern Awards?


Awards are age old mechanisms that guaranteed workers fundamental employment rights such as minimum wage, holidays, sick leave etc. Historically, depending on the industry or occupation, awards have been governed by State, Territory or Federal Legislation providing a complex and confusing Industrial landscape for all concerned. Accordingly the federal government via the Fair Work Act (see posting September 2009), set about modernising the myriad awards with a view of creating a system of “Modern Awards”. This process of modernisation has now been completed with the modern awards coming into effect on the 1st January 2010. As the 122 modern awards have replaced about 1700 federal and state-based awards, the impact of the wages and conditions in modern awards vary between states, industries and employers

Modern Award & employees who are Information Technology specialists.

Under the new modern awards, two employer/employee situations prevail.

Scenario 1:

The employer’s main area of business is not “principally engaged in the information technology industry”. For these employers and their employees there would appear to be no relevant modern award applicable to their IT workers.

Scenario 2

The employer is “principally engaged in the information Technology Industry”. The IT workers working for this employer full under the Professional Employees Award. Under this award the employer must a) make copies of the award available to employees, b) the parties may vary the award by agreement, c) minimum salaries are nominated (typically well below what is regarded as ‘industry standard’, d) salaries may not be reduced because of the award, e) Dispute resolution mechanisms are mandated. Future Posts will discuss this award in more detail.

How do I identify what Modern Awards effect my business?

Remember, modern awards only affect employees who work for companies that are defined as national employers governed by the Fair Work Act of 2009. The Sept 09 posting on this newsblog will help you work out what jurisdiction you fall under. The Fair Work website provides a search facility that will assist you with this. http://www.fairwork.gov.au/Pay-leave-and-conditions/Awards/Pages/Find-an-award.aspx?role=employees"}">Find Modern Award Remember, if in doubt, don’t be afraid to seek advise.

National Employment Standard (NES) and Modern Awards?

If you are unfamiliar with the NES, the October 2009 posting on this NewsBlog provides a succinct overview. All awards incorporate the NES as the minimum standard that the award can offer. An award may offer benefits in excess to the NES but not less then. All employers and employees should therefore be familiar with the NES.