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Employment Awards: Which one applies and why does it matter?
24.Mar.2020 Legal

Employment Awards: Which one applies and why does it matter?

What are employment awards?

Employment awards are industry or job specific and they outline minimum standards of employment (including pay) for that specific role. It’s surprising how many business owners are not actually aware that these awards exist and often if they do know, they aren’t necessarily applying them in practice.

The importance of valuing your team and the performance and productivity that can flow from that as a result can’t be overstated. Outside of workplace culture, a big consideration of this is what you pay your them, as well as bonuses, overtime and holiday rates.

For example…

We have recently acted in a matter where the employer wasn’t aware of the award’s existence and it ended up costing them a significant amount of money. This is despite the company priding itself on the employment conditions, including paying over and above what it considered to be fair wage, cash bonuses, paid lunch breaks and other financial benefits.  However, they didn’t pay Sunday penalty and overtime rates which are required under the award, nor did they keep records of the times the staff worked on a Sunday.  A staff member recently resigned and has made a claim against the company for underpaid wages in excess of $50,000.  

As the company didn’t keep their own records of the hours worked on Sundays, they didn’t have any evidence to defend the claim. Notwithstanding the fact that the company paid over the award rates for ordinary hours, paid cash bonuses and paid lunch breaks (which they were not obliged to do), the claim ended up costing the company a significant amount and threatened it’s very existence.

The importance of employment awards

Avoiding situations such as this should be easy. Business owners are passionate about what they do and often love the fact that they have an opportunity to build an amazing workplace culture and go above and beyond for their valued team. The fundamental building block for this is understanding your obligations as an employer – it’s absolutely vital to the stability and longevity of your business. If you’re unsure of what these obligations are, make it a priority to contact us, read up and educate yourself.

Keep in mind that awards only deal with certain minimum requirements. Best practice is to implement employment contracts which will clearly set all of the terms of the employment relationship. Executives and those who are on a salary over $148,000 are exempt from awards. If you have team members on a wage of this size, having a solid employment contract in place is imperative.

Employment law can be a tricky one but ensuring that you’ve sought out the right advice in this space is honestly a no-brainer. We’d love to chat!

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