Award Modernisation – July 2009

The Australian Industrial Relation Commission (AIRC) has been undertaking the process of Award Modernisation. All modern awards take effect from 1 January 2010.

The following final award has been released by the AIRC in relation to road transport throughout Australia. The AIRC has also indicated that this award is subject to further change as the award modernisation process continues.

If You Operate as a Company

This award only applies to those organisations who are constitutional corporations and fall within the coverage provisions of the federal industrial relations legislation.  This means that if you operate your business as a company anywhere in Australia this new award will apply to you from 1 January 2010. The new Award is called:

 Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010

Modern awards have been compiled from a number of sources. These sources are the current awards that apply in each state and cover a number of industries. As a result of this process there are some new provisions that have been introduced that may have only been applicable in one State prior to this process being implemented.

If You Operate as a Sole Trader or Partnership

At this stage the current State Awards will still apply after 1 January 2010 if you currently fall within State Industrial Laws.  However, some States already operate under Federal Laws and therefore the Modern Award that is mentioned above (Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010) will apply to them as from 1 January 2010.

We have been informed that all States are considering changes to their Industrial Laws to update State Awards to reflect the new Modern Awards being introduced by the Federal Government. As a result we would encourage ALL members to check out the contents of the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010. We would like to know what impact, if any, would apply if this award were introduced.

National Employment Standards

National Employment Standards (NES) will also take effect from 1 January 2010 for all employees covered by the Federal system (see above) regardless of industry, occupation or income.

The 10 NES are as follows:

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work – a standard 38-hour working week for full-time employees plus reasonable additional hours. These will be decided by assessment of certain factors, including the needs of the business and the compensation payable to the employee.
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements – employees with caring responsibilities for a child under school age will have the right to request flexible working arrangements, which could include reduced or altered hours or work from home.
  3. Parental leave and related entitlements – a right for each eligible parent to 12 months’ unpaid parental leave.
  4. Annual leave – a guaranteed 4 weeks’ paid annual leave (an extra week for shift workers) and a pro rata amount for part-time workers. An important change is the re-crediting of annual leave where an employee is ill or required to care during a period of annual leave.
  5. Personal, carer’s and compassionate leave – 10 days’ paid personal and carer’s leave per year of service for full-time workers (pro rata for part-time employees) which accrues indefinitely plus 2 days’ paid compassionate leave per occasion – this does not apply to casuals. All workers (including casuals) will be entitled to 2 days of unpaid personal leave for genuine caring purposes and family emergencies upon each occasion (not capped). The NES will require re-crediting of sick leave where an employee is ill or required to care during a period of a public holiday.
  6. Community service leave – an entitlement to all employees to unpaid leave for all prescribed community service activities, such as emergency services and jury service. Employers are obliged to pay employees for up to 10 days jury duty leave at their basic pay rate.
  7. Long service leave – all long service leave entitlements that currently exist in pre-modern awards, NAPSAs and State or Territory laws will be preserved for the time being
  8. Public holidays – employees will be entitled to be absent from work on public holidays and be paid at ordinary hours rates unless they work at the reasonable request of the employer in which case they may be paid a penalty rate.
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay – employees (except those serving a qualifying period, those on a fixed term or seasonal contract and casual employees) will be entitled to minimum periods of notice of termination or pay in lieu, based on their period of continuous service. Employers with over 15 employees will have to make severance payments in cases of redundancy.
10. Fair Work Information Statement – employers will have to provide new employees with a Fair Work Information Statement from Fair Work Australia about NES, awards, making agreements, freedom of association and Fair Work Australia.

As indicated above, the NES only applies to those businesses that operate as constitutional corporations. However, if the various State Governments pass similar or identical legislation or give up their Industrial Relations functions to the Federal Government, as Victoria and Tasmania have, then the new NES will apply to everyone.

We would encourage all members to become conversant with the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 and NES, especially if you operate your business as a Company or are covered by the provisions of the Federal Industrial Relations legislation.


Bob Paton – July 2009.