Modern awards: know your rights!

As an employer, it is essential you understand what a modern award is and how it governs the employment relationship between yourself and your employees. Continue reading this Legal Kitz blog to learn more about modern awards.

What is a modern award?

A Modern Award in Australia is a document consisting of a set of industry or occupation-specific legal standards that outline minimum wages, working conditions, and entitlements for employees. Modern awards came into effect on 1 January 2010.

What entitlements do modern awards provide?

Modern awards provide entitlements such as:

  • Pay;
  • Hours of work;
  • Breaks;
  • Rosters;
  • Allowances;
  • Penalty rates; and
  • Overtime.

A list of current modern awards can be can be found on the Fair Work Commission Website under the Modern Awards list.

Who is covered by a modern award?

All employees who are covered by the national workplace relations systems are entitled to a modern award. The awards apply for most employees in Australia including casual, part-time and full-time workers. However, managers or higher income employees may not be covered by a modern award, regardless of if the award applies to the industry in which they work in.

A wide range of industries and occupations are covered by modern awards, such as hospitality, retail, health care and construction. Employers are legally required to comply with the applicable modern awards specific to their industry or occupation.

Employees can find out more about which modern award applies to them through the Find my award tool on the Fair Work website.

When do modern awards not apply?

A modern award will outline all the terms and conditions of employment in most employer-employee agreements. If the business is covered by a registered agreement, the conditions of a modern award are no longer relevant. However, if the base rates of pay in an agreement are lower than those in relevant modern award, modern award base pay rates will apply.

How can employers and employees be aware of their rights and obligations for modern awards?

There are several ways in which employers and employees in Australia can become aware of modern awards such as:

  1. Visiting the Fair Work Commission Website: The website is the official source of information on modern awards in Australia and provides comprehensive information on each award.
  2. Speaking to a human resource professional: Employers can speak to their HR department to seek advice to ensure they are aware of the modern awards that are applicable to their industry.
  3. Attending training and development programs: Employers and employees can attend programs that provide information on modern awards, as well as other employment matters. The programs are often run by industry associations, professional bodies and/or legal professionals.
  4. Seeking legal advice: Employees are able to seek to legal advice from legal services such as the Fair Work Ombudsman for further assistance or guidance on modern awards or other employment matters.
  5. Consulting with trade unions: Employees can consult with their trade union representatives, who can provide advice and support on modern awards or other workplace matters.

It is important for employers and employees to be aware of the modern awards and understand their rights and obligations under these awards. In turn, this will ensure that employees receive their entitlements and that employers are complying with their legal obligations.

What legislation governs modern awards?

The modern awards system in Australia is governed by the Fair Work Act 2009.

The Fair Work Act sets out the minimum employment standards for all employees in Australia, including wages, working hours, leave entitlements and termination of employment.

Under the Act, the Fair Work Commission is responsible for creating and reviewing modern awards. The Commission consults with employers, employees and their representative organisations before making any changes to the awards.

The Act also provides for the National Employment Standards (NES), which are the 11 minimum employment entitlements that apply to all employees in Australia. The NES include entitlements such as annual leave, personal/carer’s leave, parental leave and redundancy pay.

Employers and employees have legal rights and obligations under the Fair Work Act making it imperative for both parties to be aware of their obligations to ensure compliance with the law.

For further information regarding a Modern Award, you may visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Legal advice

Employers and employees can seek legal advice for further assistance or guidance on modern awards or other employment matters.

If you need further assistance or advice regarding modern awards, or employment matters, we here at Legal Kitz would love to help you. We offer free resources and the option to request a free 30-minute consultation for all of your employment queries. Additionally, our sister company Business Kitz offers a subscription-based plan with over 150+ legally compliant documents.