Changes to Modern Awards

Written by: The Institute of Certified Bookkeepers

The Fair Work Commission has varied a number of awards as part of its Modern Award Review. The changes affect rules about casual conversion, minimum engagement periods and rostering arrangements. You can check the changes to your award in the Fair Work Commission’s schedule of determinations.

Casual conversion – change to permanent

Importantly, a five-member Full Bench of the Commission provided a decision concerning part-time and casual employment in response to its review of modern awards.

As part of its decision, the Commission shall include a model clause into over 80 modern awards which did not previously include a casual conversion clause. The new clause enables casual employees to seek convert from casual to full-time or part-time employment, subject to certain rules and restrictions.

The model clause incorporates a requirement that all casual employees subject to the awards are to be given a copy of the model clause during the first 12 months of the employee’s term of engagement with the employer.

The casual conversion clause allows a casual worker to become a part-time or full-time employee if:

  • a qualifying period of 12 calendar months is met;
  • the casual employee must have engaged in work with a pattern of hours on an ongoing basis over the required 12 month interval which may continue to be worked on a full-time or part-time basis without the need for significant adjustment.

The changes took effect from the first full pay interval on or after 1 October 2018.

Changes to minimum engagement periods

Please note that minimum engagement terms are now in effect: the minimum amount of time an employer may work during each shift.

This seeks to make the process of scheduling and rostering staff more fair. Employees cannot be called in for 20 minutes of work, they need to be allocated the minimum number of hours. This prevents a staff member driving an hour only to be told they are not needed after a few minutes of work.

It is important to note that the minimum engagement term is different within each award. Eg In the fitness award if you are level 2, 3, 3A or 4A then minimum engagement is one hour otherwise it is three hours except for student trainers.

Minimum wages in the General Retail Industry Award

Minimum wages in the General Retail Industry Award 2010 [MA000004] have been increased by 3.5%. The increase to wages will apply from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2018.

See the Annual Wage Review 2017-2018 decision [2018] FWCFB 3500 for more details.

Examples for modern award increases

The following examples show how the increase in wages applies to adult employees in classification level 4,
which may include:

  • Employees engaged in managing a defined section or department, supervision of up to 4 sales staff (including self), stock control, buying and ordering requiring the exercise of discretion as to price, quantity and quality etc.

For advice about which award applies to you and your classification level please contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Full-time (weekly rate)

PreviousFrom 1 July 2018Increase per week

Full-time and part-time employee hourly rates for ordinary hours

Note: calculated on the basis of 38 hours per week.

DayPreviousFrom 1 July 2018Increase per hour
Monday to Friday$21.29$22.04$0.75
Sunday$41.52* $39.67−$1.85
Public holiday – all hours$47.90$49.59$1.69

Employees may be entitled to various overtime rates and allowances which are not included in the tables above.

The Fair Work Ombudsman Pay Calculator can assist with calculating wages and allowances.

* Sunday penalty rates were reduced in the Penalty Rates decision [2017] FWCFB 1001. A further decision [2017] FWCFB 3001 put transitional arrangements in place which reduce the Sunday penalty rates over 3 years.

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