Issue 14 2021 - Award rates and flexibility conditions are changing this week

Updated: Jun 28

The end of June rush is on us again with numerous changes to award conditions, rates and allowances. These have implications even for employers with enterprise agreements. Do you know what the changes are and how they affect your operation?.


Award rates and allowances

Award minimum rates

Our EMA Note 13 summarised the wage decision and the 2.5% increase to award rates of pay. You can access the article at the bottom of the EMA Consulting website home page. Most (but not all) awards have an effect from the first pay period on or after 1 July 2021.

Expense-rated allowances

The Fair Work Commission has issued determinations for adjustments to expense-related allowances for those awards that have an operative date of 1 July 2021.

You can access the list and the determinations for all wages and expense-related allowances on the Commission’s website through this link.

Effect on enterprise agreements

If you have an enterprise agreement, you cannot ignore these changes. You must check that the base rate of pay in your agreement is not below the base rate of pay in the relevant award. If it is, adjustments will be required, and you should take advice about how to do that.[1]

If your agreement makes other references to the Fair Work Commission increases or award wage or allowance adjustments, you will need to comply with those specific provisions.

Clerks who work from home

Many employers have clerical and administration staff who have been working from home - you need to review the process. The award flexibilities put in place during COVID cease on 30 June 2021. From then, employees covered by the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2020 will need to work in accordance with the usual hours of work clause. Additionally, the Clerks Award case that was reviewing working from home arrangements on a more permanent basis has been discontinued by agreement between the parties. [2]

Check your compliance now to make sure you are not exposed to future claims for underpayment or overtime.

Retail Award – Improved flexibility for part-time hours

The General Retail Industry Award 2020 has been varied to provide clearer process for:

  • reaching agreement to vary ordinary hours (including by text and other electronic means). The change must be agreed before it commences. Any additional ordinary hours attract accrued leave;

  • changing an employee’s agreed pattern of work with seven days notice;

  • permitting an employee to request an increase in guaranteed hours if the employee works more hours over a twelve month period. Refusal is only on reasonable business grounds; and

  • more detailed and prescriptive requirements for publishing rosters.

Altering the span of hours - Facilitative provisions

Eleven widely-used awards contain provisions permitting agreement to alter the span of hours by up to an hour at either end without incurring overtime or shift penalties. It was considered these could be ambiguous, so new provisions now make their operation clearer. You can find the list of awards and the specific draft determinations for each in this link from the Fair Work Commission. You should check these – getting it wrong could be costly.

Require further information/assistance?

If you require further information or advice, please contact your Consultant.


[1] Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), s 206 [2] [2021] FWCFB 3653