Shorter, simpler modern awards will help, says small business

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Shorter, simpler modern awards will help, says small business

When asked by the Fair Work Commission what would improve modern awards, small business focus groups said they should be shorter, simpler, use examples and use less jargon.

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When asked by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) what would improve modern awards, small business focus groups said they should be shorter, simpler, use examples and use less jargon.

The FWC undertook focus groups and in-depth interviews with 47 small business owners to receive feedback on their use and perceptions of modern award documents.

The small businesses (with 1 to 19 employees) were from both metropolitan and regional areas of Victoria and New South Wales.

Owners were asked to review both a current modern award document as well as an exemplar modern award document. The exemplar modern award document is a sample award, prepared for comment as part of the four-yearly review of modern awards.

The FWC president, Justice Iain Ross, said research participants provided many suggestions about potential improvements for future modern award documents including:
  • reducing their length
  • simplifying the table of contents
  • improving the appearance and content of tables
  • the use of more examples, including calculation examples
  • the use of simpler language with less “legalese” and jargon, making them easier to understand and less prone to misinterpretation.
“The small business owners in the study made it clear that what they needed was a document that they could rely upon for correct information in relation to wages and entitlements,” Justice Ross said.

“They also wanted to be able to find what they were looking for as quickly and easily as possible.”

View the full report: Citizen Co-Design with Small Business Owners (PDF, 991 KB)
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