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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: How many hours must an employee work to qualify for a 10-minute rest break?

Modern Awards

Q What minimum hours must an employee work to receive the 10-minute paid rest break? We are in the farming industry. A The rest break will be determined by the terms of the award. You have put farming as your […]

By Portner Press on October 14th, 2019

Commissioner seeks ‘robust consequences’ for employees who waste FWC time

Industrial Instruments

In Diane Porteous v G. Kakafikas and A.G. Bek partnership t/a Yarra Glen Pharmacy (2019), Fair Work Commission (FWC) Deputy President Alan Colman called to task an employee for wasting the time of the Commission and her employer. Deputy President […]

By Portner Press on October 9th, 2019

Your questions answered: Can we refuse an employee’s request to reduce work hours?

Industrial Instruments

Q An employee has requested to work her same hours but spread over 4 days instead of her usual 5 days. This employee does not have any protected attributes. We don’t wish to approve this request as it will have […]

By Portner Press on October 7th, 2019

Federal Government considering a major overhaul of industrial relations laws

Industrial Instruments

The Federal Government recently initiated a process to consider changes to Australian industrial relations laws in a number of areas. A discussion paper raises the prospect of new criminal penalties imposed for worker exploitation, to complement existing offences for serious […]

By Charles Power on October 2nd, 2019

Your questions answered: What meal break entitlements do part-time executive employees have?

Modern Awards

Q We are employing executive employees on part-time arrangements. Their arrangements include working from 9:30am to 2:30pm. Please could you advise the calculation of ordinary hours for this? Should a paid or unpaid meal break be included? A If the […]

By Portner Press on September 30th, 2019

Confusion over casual employee entitlements still remains after Workpac decision

Industrial Instruments

Since the Full Federal Court decision in WorkPac Pty Ltd v Skene (2018) there remains significant uncertainty as to what is a casual employee for purposes of NES paid leave entitlements. According to WorkPac, a casual will in fact be […]

By Charles Power on September 27th, 2019

Federal Court shines a light on piece rates

Industrial Instruments

Some modern awards provide for an employer to agree to pay employees a piecework rate.  A piecework rate is an amount paid on completion of a specified task. For instance the Horticulture Award provides that an employer and an employee […]

By Charles Power on September 13th, 2019

ANZ employee does not have to move branches, FWC rules

Industrial Instruments

ANZ Bank has been refused permission to appeal against a Fair Work Commission (FWC) decision that a bank teller could not be made to relocate to a more distant branch. The 68-year-old employee, who suffers from arthritis, was told that […]

By Portner Press on September 9th, 2019

HR administrator ignores call from the FWC

Industrial Instruments

Bakers Delight may now have become ‘bakers’ dismay’ for many of its employees in New South Wales, because of an HR administrator who was apparently too busy to answer a scheduled call from the Fair Work Commission (FWC). The HR […]

By Portner Press on September 6th, 2019

Can we ask an employee to choose another support person?

Industrial Instruments

Q Can we request that a party to a workplace investigation finds an alternative support person if the one they initially choose refuses to sign a confidentiality agreement? The support person is also a current employee. A If the employee […]

By Portner Press on September 2nd, 2019