Award modernisation is the process of reviewing and rationalising awards in the national workplace relations system to create a system of modern awards.
The modern awards objective
The Fair Work Commission must ensure that modern awards, together with the National Employment Standards, provide a fair and relevant minimum safety net of terms and conditions, taking into account:
- relative living standards and the needs of the low paid
- the need to encourage collective bargaining
- the need to promote social inclusion through increased workforce participation
- the need to promote flexible modern work practices and the efficient and productive performance of work
- the need to provide additional remuneration for:
- employees working overtime
- employees working unsocial, irregular or unpredictable hours
- employees working on weekends or public holidays
- employees working shifts
- the principle of equal remuneration for work of equal or comparable value
- the likely impact of any exercise of modern award powers on business, including on productivity, employment costs and the regulatory burden
- the need to ensure a simple, easy to understand, stable and sustainable modern award system for Australia that avoids unnecessary overlap of modern awards, and
- the likely impact of any exercise of modern award powers on employment growth, inflation and the sustainability, performance and competitiveness of the national economy.
This is the modern awards objective.
The Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) began the award modernisation process in March 2008 following a formal request from the Australian Government under Part 10A of the Workplace Relations Act 1996.
By the end of 2009 the AIRC had reviewed more than 1500 awards and created 122 industry and occupation awards. These awards commenced operation on 1 January 2010.
The award modernisation process continues under the AIRC's successor, the Commission. The work includes:
- Modern Awards Review 2012 – review to be undertaken 2 years after the commencement of modern awards
- modernisation of enterprise awards – applications to be lodged by 31 December 2013
- termination of instruments – award-based transitional instruments and pay scales are to be terminated as soon as practicable after they have been completely replaced by a modern award.
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