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.

A modern award will apply to your employees if you are a national system employer and:

  • you employ a person within the coverage clause of the award; and
  • the employee falls within the award classifications.

Modern awards are generally national, rather than confined to State or Territory boundaries.

However, if you are a private sector employer in Western Australia and not a constitutional corporation, the only awards that apply to you will be State awards (the coverage of which depends on their scope).

Each modern award includes classification levels. The primary consideration when determining an employee’s modern award classification is the skill or competency level required in the type of work the employee performs – not the actual duties they perform in their role.

Modern award classification levels often provide a list of typical duties or skills for each classification level. However, these are not exhaustive and are a guide only.

Employees at any particular level may not perform all of the duties or use all of the skills described in their classification. Additionally, employees at a particular classification level may be expected to undertake duties of any level lower than their own.

Most modern awards require you to state the award classification for each employee in writing. You can state this in:

  • new employees’ letters of engagement or pay slips; or
  • the memos you issue at existing employees’ next salary reviews.

However, you may prevent a modern award from applying to an eligible employee’s employment by entering into a guarantee of annual earnings with them.


Top stories for Modern Awards


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

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

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

Your questions answered: What are the minimum hour requirements before or after a sleepover shift in a care home?

Modern Awards

Q Clause 25.7(f) of the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010 states: “An employer may roster an employee to perform work immediately before and/or immediately after the sleepover period, but must roster the employee or pay […]

By Rebecca Macdougall on August 9th, 2019

CEO faces court over ‘concerning’ underpayment of nanny

Modern Awards

Managing director of Award Mortgage Solutions, Kit Antony (Tony) Lam, and his wife Ming Wei (Tiffanie) Tong are facing prosecution over allegedly requiring a Filipina nanny to work between 88 and 106 hours per week and underpaying her by $155,178.90. […]

By Portner Press on July 26th, 2019

Your questions answered: What should we pay a work experience employee?

Modern Awards

Q We are offering a work experience position to a young girl who has just completed Year 12. We have asked if she would be interested in admin work experience with us, and then potentially continuing into a trainee position. […]

By Portner Press on July 15th, 2019

Your questions answered: Are casual employees entitled to minimum hours?

Modern Awards

Q I have a question regarding casual employees and the minimum number of hours they can be paid for any one shift. Are the minimum hours defined in the relevant modern award or agreement, or is it defined in the […]

By Portner Press on June 28th, 2019

Minimum wage increase takes effect next week

Modern Awards

As of Monday 1 July, the national minimum wage will increase by 3 per cent. The decision, handed down by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) on 30 May will affect 2.2 million Australian employees (21 per cent of the Australian […]

By Portner Press on June 26th, 2019

Your questions answered: Are part-time employees entitled to overtime rates?

Modern Awards

Q Our employee who is on a part-time contract with a set amount of hours per day is occasionally required to work additional hours. Are they entitled to overtime rates for these hours? A It would depend on the employee’s […]

By Portner Press on May 22nd, 2019

Your questions answered: How can we move our staff away from awards?

Modern Awards

Q Our staff are currently on various awards and we would like to move away from having to follow these awards. If we amend our current contracts of employment and ‘annualise‘ the remuneration (taking into account all allowances and entitlements, and the […]

By Portner Press on April 29th, 2019