Modern Awards

What is a modern award?

Modern awards are legally binding documents that establish the minimum terms and conditions of employment in addition to the National Entitlement Standards (NES). 

Modern awards entitlements include:

  • minimum rates of pay,
  • arrangements for hours of work, rostering and breaks
  • allowances
  • penalty rates and overtime
  • consultation provisions
  • and more

Who is covered by an award?

There are generally two kinds of modern awards – “industry awards” and “occupational awards”. In some instances, awards may be both industry and occupational.

Industry awards cover employers in particular industries. For example, the General Retail Industry Award covers employers in the general retail industry, defined as the retail sale or hire of goods or services for personal, household or business consumption. If there is a classification for the type of work performed by an employee, they will also be covered by the award. 

Occupational awards apply to employees in particular occupations. A typical example is the Clerks – Private Sector Award, which applies to employees wholly or principally engaged in clerical work. If an industry award covers an employer and has classifications that apply to clerical or administrative employees, that industry award will also cover the employee. However, if the industry award does not contain a classification for clerical or administrative, then it’s likely that the Clerks – Private Sector Award will apply to that employee, depending on their duties.

It's important to read the award’s coverage and classification clauses to determine who is covered.

Managers or higher-income employees may not be covered by a modern award even if one applies to the industry in which they work. Where a modern award does not apply to an employee, the National Minimum Wage and the NES will form the minimum terms and conditions of employment. 

See the list of awards: 
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