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Workplace Update – Stage 3 Modern Awards released

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Last week we reported on the transitional arrangements which will apply during the introduction of the modern award system. The modern award system is one step closer to implementation, with the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) releasing another 49 modern awards. This completes the third stage of the AIRC’s four stage award modernisation process.

Modern awards have now been released to cover employees working in many industries including the following:

  • information and communication technology
  • wine
  • health and welfare services
  • pharmaceutical
  • mobile crane hiring
  • graphic arts
  • cleaning services
  • retail
  • fast food
  • commercial sales
  • educational services
  • food manufacturing
  • tourism
  • health professionals and support services
  • nursing

The award modernisation process hopes to reduce the total number of awards in Australia from approximately 2,420 to just 130 by removing the differences which exist between the States and Territories.

Businesses should be aware of the following key features of this new system:

  • The process of standardisation will lead to an increase in some employee’s award entitlements and a reduction in others. This will have an uncertain effect on an employer’s labour costs
  • Workplace agreements will be assessed against the better off overall test (BOOT test), which may prove more difficult to satisfy than the current no disadvantage test
  • The AIRC has been instructed to prepare a general ‘catch all’ award

Businesses should consider implementing an enterprise agreement prior to 1 January 2010 to avoid the uncertainty of modern awards and the BOOT test. Your window of opportunity is closing fairly quickly.  We invite you to speak to a member of our Workplace Relations team to learn more about new modern awards and enterprise agreement making.

MST is hosting a free Workplace Relations breakfast seminar on Thursday 17 September, 2009  Click here to reserve your place.

Author:  Laughlin Nicholls