In Australia today, there are 122 modern awards detailing the minimum wages and conditions of employment for the majority of national system employees. National system employees include those employed by corporations throughout Australia, together with those employed by unincorporated businesses in all states and territories, except for Western Australia. The first modern awards took effect from 1 January 2010. To determin the award that applies, employers should:
- clearly define the roles for all employees
- review the list of modern awards here
- examine the coverage clause and the job classifications listed to confirm the correct award (if any).
Importantly, each employee may only be subject to a single award and the applicable award will vary according to the role the employee performs. It is quite common for employees working for the same employer to be subject to different awards. Determination of the applicable award is particularly important and often, may be confusing for employers.
The Fair Work Commission bears responsibility for making and varying awards in the Australian workplace relations system. Award modernisation is the process of reviewing and rationalising awards to create a system of ‘modern awards.’ Advocates from Australian Workplace Strategies appeared before the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (the predecessor to the Fair Work Commission) on a number of occasions during the award modernisation process to make representations regarding the building services sector and funeral directing.