What are modern awards?

A modern award is the holy grail for all Australian employees. It sets out the minimum wage and conditions that an employee is legally entitled to.

From the 1st of July 2009, most Australian workplaces have been regulated by the Fair Work Act 2009 . Under this new system, awards existing under the Commonwealth workplace relations system were modernised.

The modern awards came into place on 1 January 2010. So that the employees and employers affected by the change can have time to adjust to it, many of the these awards contained transitional arrangements to smoothly introduce changes in wages, loadings and penalty rates over five years.

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What does this change mean for you?

The modernisation of awards saw existing awards consolidated into industry or occupation-based categories. It rationalised the awards system.

Meaning, it helps you as an employee to remove the confusion regarding determining your minimum wage and work conditions, so you are aware of your entitlements.

If you worked in the private sector, covered by the NSW state award system, as of 1 January 2010 your employment has been covered by the national workplace relations system overseen by the Fair Work Ombudsman. Meaning, previous awards are now streamlined into 122 modern awards that cover all Australian private-sector workplaces.

It is wise for you to determine, if you have not done so already, which modern award you are covered by and if there are any changes or transitional clauses that affect you. It’s never too late to check if you are being paid correctly.

It has been suggested that modern awards now are also less ambiguous giving little room for dispute over meaning of a particular section. But if the law was completely straightforward we would not have courts or the judiciary system.

Award yourself – how to find the right award for you

Awards apply to employees depending on the industry they work in or the job that they do. Each award contains important information regarding whom it is covering and job classification.

Unlike Indiana Jones, to find this holy grail you don’t have to loom in dark caves, you can find the award that applies to you by using Fair Work’s website and reading the information in relevant award to ensure it applies to you. Or you can browse the list of industry and occupation awards.

Note: Modern awards are not applicable to you if your annual income exceeds $113,800. It also does not apply to you if you are working for a business or enterprise that has an enterprise agreement in place.

Note to Employers: To ensure that you are clearly outlining the expectations and duties of your employees, ensure you have an Employment Agreement in place. Depending on the position of your employees, you can choose from LawPath’s documents such as Employment Agreement (Causal) or Employment Agreement (Full time) and many more options available from LawPath’s website, customised to fit your needs.

Unsure where to start? Contact a LawPath consultant on 1800LAWPATH to learn more about customising legal documents, obtaining a fixed-fee quote from our network of 600+ expert lawyers or to get answers to your legal questions.

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