Jacquie Seemann and Richard Gunningham

Modern Award Review Update

Jacquie Seemann and Richard Gunningham

23 September 2019

Award Conditions

The Fair Work Commission’s delayed four yearly review of Modern Awards is now moving into its final stages.  The Commission recently published:

  • the first round of amendments, being ‘plain language’ variations to 21 Modern Awards, effective 30 August 2019;
  • the first tranche of draft amended Modern Awards, with submissions on the drafts due 20 September 2019 and a hearing to determine the amendments listed for 11 October 2019; and
  • an indicative timeline for the publication and hearing on the second and third tranches of draft amended Modern Awards.

The four yearly modern review is the first and last of its kind – because last year the Federal Parliament passed legislation replacing four yearly reviews with reviews on an ‘as-needs basis’.

This is the first in a series of blogs that we will publish, identifying the implications for employers of the changes to Modern Awards resulting from the four yearly review.

Plain language variations are now in force – be aware, but not alarmed

The first round of amendments are ‘plain language’ variations to 21 Modern Awards which took effect on Friday, 30 August 2019.

For the most part, the changes are about clarifying language and concepts, and the impact of the changes in practice will be minor.  The affected clauses are those dealing with individual flexibility agreements; consultation; dispute resolution; reasonable overtime; notice of termination of employment; and redundancy.

The most substantial changes are those:

  • defining what makes overtime ‘reasonable’ – factors to be considered now include payments for overtime, industry patterns, and the employee’s role and level of responsibility; and
  • restricting what can be deducted from an employee’s pay on termination – an employer may only deduct a ‘reasonable’ amount, to a maximum of one week’s wages, and not at all if the employee is under 18 or a shorter notice period was agreed.

The 21 Modern Awards varied by the plain language changes are listed below.

For those interested in the fine print, we have summarised the changes to each Modern Award which may be accessed by clicking the Modern Award that covers you and your workforce.

Please contact a member of our Employment, Workplace Relations and Safety Team if you would like our assistance in understanding the potential impact of any of the changes on your workforce – particularly if you are negotiating or considering a new enterprise agreement in the near future.