Employers lay siege to advice lines for help on modern awards

News

Employers lay siege to advice lines for help on modern awards

Employer associations are experiencing a dramatic leap in calls for expert advice on how much they have to pay their employees under the new modern award system.

WantToReadMore

Get unlimited access to all of our content.

Employer associations are experiencing a dramatic leap in calls for expert advice on how much they have to pay their employees under the new modern award system.
 
NSW Business Chamber said it is experiencing a record-breaking increase in calls to its workplace advice line, and the Australian Retailers Association (ARA) is taking up to 250 calls a day.
 
Stephen Cartwright, CEO of NSWBC, said calls to the Chamber’s workplace advice line have doubled in recent weeks, with employers seeking advice on the first of five transitional phases to the new modern award system.
 
Difficult and complex
 
‘Employers are trying to come to grips with a very difficult and complex transition to the new modern award system and are looking for expert advice to help them pay the correct wages to their employees,’ he said.
 
‘There has been a significant upheaval of the award system in the last six months with the new modern awards starting from 1 January 2010, but the changes to pay rates have only been in effect since 1 July. This is the time of the biggest change in transitioning to the new system.’
 
Mr Cartwright said that some employers had reasonably straightforward changes to their employees pay rates, while other employers faced up to five years of transitional changes to the pay rates in their awards.
 
‘Casual loading, for example, has now been set at 25% in all awards, but some awards are transitioning up from 15% and others are transitioning down from 30% over a five-year period. That means employers have to work out what percentage of the transition they have to apply from 1 July and that’s where the complexity lies.’
 
Pay scales
 
Mr Cartwright said that NSW Business Chamber workplace experts were spending considerable time walking employers through the extraordinarily complex changes to their pay scales.
 
‘We would like to see the Fair Work Ombudsman continue its focus on education, and give employers some leeway and support in understanding and complying with what is, in many ways, a mindboggling experience.’
 
ARA executive director, Russell Zimmerman, said the ARA is taking up to 250 calls per day from confused retailers and many more are using the ARA’s wage transition tools to ‘get their head around’ complex changes to the retail award.
 
‘The new retail award is already in operation, so if retailers haven’t already sought advice from their employer association about new hourly rates, casual loadings, penalties, and allowances, they need to do so now,’ he said.
 
‘With the Fair Work Ombudsman out and about targeting the retail sector with visits to over 1500 randomly selected stores across the country, retailers need to be on the front foot.
 
Expert help
 
‘The five-year incremental transition between old state-based awards and the modern award system, also taking into account the new minimum wage, is a highly complex process and for retailers to be certain they are complying with new wage laws they should be seeking expert help.’
 
Zimmerman said that to manage retail demand for wage advice throughout the transitional period and to help retailers avoid time-consuming and complicated manual calculations, ARA has developed up-to-date and comprehensive online wage transition tools that set out:
  • which classification from the old awards relate to specific new award classifications;
  • wage-rate obligations for every state and territory by classification;
  • every type of allowance, loading, and penalty for every retail wage category in the General Retail Industry Award; and
  • frequently asked questions with worked examples.

 

Post details