Award modernisation – was the ‘no losers’ scenario ever possible?
By Belinda Sundaraj, CCH senior writer
The award modernisation process has reduced more than 2500 awards down to just 130.
Part of the rationalisation has been achieved by consolidating state specific occupational awards into one nationwide common award for that occupation. As each state award would have had different rates, ordinary hours and penalties there had to be winners and losers in any move to a single set of conditions.
Prior to the election and at the time award modernisation was announced the Federal Government was frequently heard to say neither employees nor employers would be disadvantaged by the process. This became a less frequent catchcry as the process went on and the streamlining of obligations and ease of use became the main advantage emphasised by the Government.
Now the Australian Industrial Relations Commission has acknowledged the impossibility of implementing the ‘no disadvantage’ aim in a decision on transitional arrangements handed down on 2 September 2009.
The full bench stated “…it is clear that some award conditions will increase, leading to cost increases, and others will decrease, leading to potential disadvantage for employees, depending upon the current award coverage.”
The Federal Government has now said that the claim that no one would be disadvantaged was just an objective, not a promise.
Was this objective ever realistic? Probably not; there were always going to be winners and losers. Are you worried about increased costs due to new obligations under a modern award?
Or, conversely, are you worried about disgruntled employees whose rates will be reduced over time? How are modern awards going to be implemented in your workplace?
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