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An industrial instrument is any legislation or award, order, determination or industrial agreement in force under Australian legislation.

The most notable ones include The Fair Work Act, enterprise agreements, and modern awards.

The Fair Work Act (FW Act) uses Commonwealth constitutional powers to extend its operation as far as possible. This includes the power to make laws:

An enterprise agreement (or collective agreement) is an agreement made between a national system employer and some or all of its employees who are employed at the time the agreement is made.

A modern award is an instrument that records the minimum conditions of employment for employees it covers. These conditions are enforceable under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act). In Australia, there 122 modern awards.

The minimum conditions provided under these instruments apply automatically and cannot be overridden by any other arrangement between the employer and an employee.

Industrial instruments help protect employers and employees from discrimination and health and safety violations, as well as ensuring equal pay and leave provisions.


Top stories for Industrial Instruments


Your questions answered: Is a Year 2 award rate paid after one or two years of service?

Modern Awards

Q In the Clerks – Private Sector Award, is the Year 2 hourly rate applicable after two years’ service or after one year service? A Clause 15.3 of the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 provides that “’year’ in respect […]

By Portner Press on December 4th, 2019

Qantas sign-on bonus alleged to be adverse action

Industrial Instruments

In 2018 Qantas offered a bonus ($2,500 for full-time employees and $2,000 for part time employees). One of the conditions for receiving the cash component of bonus was that new enterprise agreement was voted up and approved. This has had […]

By Charles Power on November 27th, 2019

Overworked professional employees – How do you comply with the Fair Work Act?

Industrial Instruments

Each week we read about another employer who has been allegedly not paying their employees for the hours they have worked. These cases are often not concerned with employers applying a pay rate that is less than the applicable award […]

By Charles Power on November 20th, 2019

Your questions answered: Must an employee have a protected attribute to request flexible work arrangements?

Industrial Instruments

Q An employee who does not have any protected attributes has requested to work fewer days, but the same number of hours. Is it reasonable to tell the employee that potential approval of working 5 days hours over 4 days […]

By Portner Press on November 20th, 2019

Your questions answered: Can we make an employee pay our insurance excess?

Industrial Instruments

Q One of our employees reversed into main entrance glass doors while parking his car. Our company had to pay $500 excess on the insurance claim. We’d like to claim that back from the employee by offering him a payment […]

By Portner Press on November 13th, 2019

Apprentice who refused weekend overtime was unfairly dismissed, FWC rules

Industrial Instruments

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has ordered a small business employer to pay eight weeks’ wages to an apprentice it sacked, after finding he was unfairly dismissed for refusing to work overtime on a Sunday. Perfect Coat Painting believed that […]

By Portner Press on November 11th, 2019

I’ve rectified an underpayment to my employees. Do I need to tell the FWO?

Industrial Instruments

Each week a different employer is self-disclosing underpayments of wages to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO). In the face of recent adverse media publicity about award breaches and so-called ‘wage theft’, non-complying employers perceive there is a positive in letting […]

By Charles Power on November 6th, 2019

Your questions answered: Do employer and employee notice periods need to be the same?

Industrial Instruments

Q We would like to extend the notice period to 4 weeks for all employees regardless of length of service. Is it possible to do this just for employees, as we would be looking to keep the employer notice period […]

By Portner Press on November 6th, 2019

Ignoring complaints of overwork could make an employee’s resignation a dismissal

Industrial Instruments

You will dismiss someone for the purposes of unfair dismissal laws if they are forced to resign because of your conduct or a course of conduct engaged in by you. The test is whether your actions result directly or consequentially […]

By Charles Power on November 4th, 2019

Your questions answered: Can our employees be made to take annual leave or unpaid leave during our company’s Christmas closure?

Industrial Instruments

Q Our company closes over Christmas and New Year each year. If an employee’s annual leave balance is not sufficient to cover this closure period, we ask our staff to take advanced annual leave. Can we provide them with an […]

By Portner Press on November 4th, 2019