If there’s one thing that tends to bamboozle businesses in Australia, it’s industry awards. And it’s easy to see why: they’re complex and constantly changing. So to help clear the confusion, we’ve put together this short FAQs guide:
What are industry awards?
Officially known as modern awards, industry awards (like the general retail industry award) cover the terms, conditions and minimum entitlements for employees in specific industries. Things like:
- pay rates
- work hours
- overtime rates
- penalty rates
They also include industry allowances.
What are industry allowances?
Whether you’re in retail, pharmacy and medical, production and manufacturing, accommodation and hospitality, childcare and education, or have a light industrial or mobile workforce, your staff are likely entitled to allowances.
These are payments given to employees to cover various industry-specific work expenses, as well as to compensate for working in high-risk environments. This includes things like climbing ladders, using scaffolding, being exposed to extreme weather, or not having access to a break room or locker.
Allowances can also cover things like first aid, meals, accommodation and travel. For example, the general retail industry award sets out pay and industry allowances for retail workers. Things like weekend and public holiday penalty rates, a late finish penalty, casual loading, liquor license allowance and special clothing allowance are all included.
The amount you have to pay depends on the industrial agreement or the one you’ve agreed to with each employee.
How do I know what allowances apply?
The Fair Work website is packed with information on allowances and updates, including a pay and conditions tool, pay guides for each industry, and a full list of modern awards.
Bear in mind that in March 2020, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) brought in new annualised salary clauses for quite a few modern awards. The idea is to minimise wage theft and HR and payroll non-compliance when it comes to salaried workers. These sweeping changes mean businesses have to be extra vigilant to avoid penalties.
How can I be compliant with industry allowances?
Since modern awards change all the time (and are incredibly complicated to begin with), it can be a huge headache keeping on top of it all and updating your payroll manually – not to mention the risk of making mistakes that could put your business in hot water.
The simplest, most efficient way to meet your industry allowance obligations is with automation. For instance, Wageloch lets you define allowances against shifts and/or team members. Your staff can simply click the ones they want to claim when clocking on and off, and Wageloch does the rest to ensure that they’re paid appropriately and that your business is doing the right thing.
Want to know more? Book a demo to see how we can configure it to your business and industry awards.
The information in this article is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available. It’s not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal or tax advice. You should, where necessary, seek a second professional opinion for any legal or tax issues raised in your business affairs.