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Employment Law Modern Award - 8 September 2023


Who is covered by an Award?

All employees who fall within the definition of “national system employee” are covered by an Award. This will depend on the State or Territory which the business is located in, but in most cases (with some exceptions) an employee will be covered by an Award.

Some employees, such as upper management and executive level employees, may not be covered and instead, their entitlements will be worked out under Employment Agreements.

How do I know which Award covers me/my employees?

The Fair Work Ombudsman has useful online tools such, as the Award Finder, which either employers or employees can use to check what Award, if any, covers them. This is used by answering some questions about your industry and the job description.

What does the Award cover?

The Awards set out different information about working conditions, including things like:

  • ordinary hours of work;
  • overtime and penalty rates;
  • pay rates;
  • levels of employment (usually, based on experience or demonstrated competencies);
  • breaks; and
  • allowances (such as meal allowances and vehicle allowances).

These things can vary between Awards, depending on the industry they cover. For example, an office worker’s ordinary hours may be very different from a delivery truck driver’s ordinary hours.

Do Awards change?

Usually, Awards are reviewed every financial year and the minimum payrates will increase. It is therefore important for employers and employers to be aware of any increases to rates of pay and/or other changes to their Awards.

What other protections are there?

An employee who is a national system employee will also be protected by the National Employment Standards. These set out the absolute minimum entitlements that all such employees are entitled to expect from their employers. These cannot be excluded by an Award or Employment Agreement.

What if I am being paid less than the Award/I am paying employees less than the Award?

Mistakes can happen. It is important to discuss any issues with pay (or other entitlements) with your employer/employee and remedy any issues as soon as possible. If you can’t reach agreement, then the next step is to consult an employment lawyer as soon as possible to understand your rights and responsibilities.

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