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New – Preparing for the Modern Awards

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The modern awards in a nutshell

Since 28 March 2008, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission has been working towards drafting new modern awards to replace the multiplicity of federal pre-reform and transitional awards and notional agreements preserving state awards (‘NAPSAs’) currently in place.

From 1 January 2010, or when finalised if not before this date, these modern awards will replace any existing award or NAPSA applicable to your employees other than an enterprise award. The modern awards each contain transitional provisions to assist in adjusting to modern award base rates of pay and penalty rates applicable from 1 July 2010. All other modern award entitlements including overtime loadings and allowances will apply from 1 January 2010.

For further detail on the modern awards, click here

Preparing for the modern awards

In preparing for the introduction of the modern awards, employers are encouraged to:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the terms of all new modern awards that will regulate the employment of your employees. For an initial period of 5 years, modern awards will prescribe particular entitlements to apply within particular state and territory boundaries to cushion the impact of the new modern awards on employers.
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  3. Ensure employees are no worse off as a consequence of new modern award entitlements. In the event that a modern award sets minimum entitlements lower than those employees currently enjoy, employers will not be able to reduce existing employee minimum entitlements. As well as having a contractual entitlement to continue their current conditions, employees will be able to apply to Fair Work Australia for a ‘take home pay’ order to preserve their current conditions.
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  5. Enter into an enterprise agreement where provisions of any applicable modern award do not suit the needs of your business. An enterprise agreement ensures that your employees are covered by relevant and flexible conditions which will displace any underpinning modern award.
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  7. Be aware of the minimum wage rates under a relevant modern award, even if you have a workplace agreement in place, as the minimum wage rates will, subject to transitional provisions contained in each modern award, have universal application for all employees.
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Author: Katie Sweatman