Modern Awards Explained

Gordon Legal are expert employment lawyers in Sydney and Melbourne. Whether you are starting a new job, already working, or have recently departed your employment, Gordon Legal are able to advise you on what your employment law rights and entitlements might be to ensure that you are afforded a fair go.  In this update, we discuss Modern Awards: what a Modern Award is, why a Modern Award could matter to you and how to ensure that you are not the victim of an underpayment.

What is a modern award?

A Modern Award is an important document for employees and employers. Modern Awards set out the minimum terms and conditions of work for employees within particular occupation groups and industries. Not everyone is covered by an Modern Award so it is important that you check the coverage terms and ensure that it applies to you.

For example, if you are a mechanic it is likely that you will be covered by the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010. If you are a gardener it is likely that you will be covered by the Gardening and Landscaping Services Award 2010. There is an award for most different occupations. Not everyone is covered by a Modern Award so it is important that you check the coverage terms and ensure that it applies to you.

Modern Awards work in tandem with the National Employment Standards to provide the base level of conditions for employees on important workplace issues like pay and penalty rates, hours of work, leave, overtime, rosters and dispute resolution.

Modern Awards, if they apply to you, act as minimum entitlements for employees. Employment lawyers are well versed in understanding and applying modern awards especially because unfortunately employers can sometimes misunderstand their obligations modern awards and this could result in an underpayment.

Why do they matter for employees?

Modern Awards protect employees. If an employee suspects that their employee is not providing them with fair working conditions, they should look at the award that applies to them to check their entitlements. If you are in this position and are a member of a Union, you can ask them to provide you with a copy. Alternatively, all of the awards can be found on the Fair Work Australia website by clicking on the following link:

https://www.fairwork.gov.au/awards-and-agreements/awards/find-my-award/

The entitlements provided in Modern Awards are not voluntary – employers are legally required to comply with them. If your think you are not getting your award entitlements, you may be able to take steps to get what you deserve. Calling Gordon Legal is a great place to start.

Modern Awards, if they apply to you, act as minimum entitlements for employees. Employment lawyers are well versed in understanding and applying modern awards especially because unfortunately employers can sometimes misunderstand their obligations modern awards and this could result in an underpayment.

Example of how an award can be used – underpayments

It is common for employees who have been underpaid to receive back-payments that makes up for the pay they should have received. This can occur in many situations, such as where an employee is paid less than the minimum hourly rate, where an employee is not paid for overtime that they work or where they are not paid the allowances that are set out in their modern award.

For example, many builders and construction workers are entitled to extra money as a tool allowance and will be liable to make back payments to their employees if they don’t. Some employers might not be aware that their employees have these sort of rights – so it pays to understand your award entitlements.   

It is important that you check your modern award and compare the entitlements set out with what your employer is actually paying you. Understanding your entitlements is the key to ensuring that you do not lose out from an underpayment.