Issue 35 2020 - Multiple Award changes impacting employer obligations – don’t be caught out!

Updated: Jun 28

2020 has been an unprecedented year for award changes. The modern awards have been changing substantially – some multiple times in a few months. Employers have become fatigued, and some have been caught out by relying on old versions, potentially leading to underpayments and fines for breaching the award.


What has been happening?

The four-year modern award review process has been significant. Every modern award has been affected. Most already have an extensively revised version in place and the remainder will by this year or early next year. The next group of awards will change from November 2020. You can access the up-to-date list of changed awards and the effective dates for the next awards on the modern award page of the Fair Work Commission site.

Apart from the totally new 2020 versions of the awards, separate changes have been made along the way to clauses on “common issues” ranging from overtime for casuals, annual leave, termination of employment, and many other issues. You can review the full list of common issues on the FWC webpage above, in the panel at left. We urge employers not to ignore these important changes.

Added to this, there has been confusion around the COVID 19 temporary schedules inserted into most awards. And now the Fair Work Commission is seeking input

Are you using the latest versions of your awards?

We have discovered many clients continuing to rely on outdated versions of the award. Many in hard copy. This is high risk. The maximum penalty for breaching an award is $66,600, on top of any underpayment resulting from the breach.

Up to date versions are now conveniently available online by clicking the links on the page above, and you should always review the latest version before making any decisions about entitlements. To be notified of specific award changes, you can also subscribe to FWC updates to receive an alert.

Once the 2020 version of your award commences, you will need to change your employment letters to refer to its new name. If you have referred to award clauses in any documents, the numbering will now likely be different.

If you are negotiating an enterprise agreement, you will need to ensure you are using an up to date resource because the Better Off Overall Test will very likely be affected by the revisions. You should also be aware of changes that the Commission has decided on but has yet to draft into the awards (you can track these by subscribing to FWC updates or instruct EMA Consulting to research for you). Additionally, when your agreement is voted up, you will need to prepare the comparison against the most recent award clauses for your Form 17. At that stage it will be too late to find out that you missed something important.

Require further information/assistance?

If you require further information or advice, please contact one of our consultants.