international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

Australia: Significant Changes to Modern Awards Take Effect

Six of Australia’s 122 Modern Awards have been amended by the Fair Work Commission (“Commission”) to provide casual employees with the right to receive payment at higher “overtime” rates when they work in certain, prescribed circumstances. These changes took effect on 1 January 2018.

The changes affect casual workers covered by the following Modern Awards:

  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award;
  • Restaurant Industry Award;
  • General Retail Industry Award;
  • Fast Food Industry Award;
  • Hair and Beauty Industry award; and
  • Registered and Licensed Clubs Award.

The changes mean casual employees will become entitled to payment at overtime rates in a wider range of situations. For example, casuals covered by the Fast Food Industry Award are now entitled to payment at overtime rates whenever they work more than 38 hours in any one week, or for more than 11 hours on any one day.

Each Modern Award has been individually amended by the Commission, and employers with Australian-based employees covered by a Modern Award should carefully review their labour practices to ensure full-compliance. Australia’s other Modern Awards also contain various overtime-related entitlements for casual workers.

Employers of Australian-based employees are reminded that Modern Awards apply to employees as a matter of law and not employer/employee choice or preference, and heavy penalties can be imposed by Australian courts for failing to comply with applicable Modern Awards.

These changes are the latest in a wave of amendments being made to Australia’s Modern Awards as a result of the Commission’s ongoing ‘4 Yearly Review’ which commenced in early 2014.