In employment law, employees can be covered by a contract, agreement or a special type of industry-regulated agreement, known as an ‘award’. The term indicates a sense of congratulation and achievement, granting the employee special rights specific to their industry. In this article, we will briefly examine how to deduce if you are covered by an employment award and what this means.

Employment awards were introduced by the Fair Work Act of 2009. The purpose was to apply specific minimum pay rates, rights and obligations to employees of certain industries or occupations. Over the past eleven years that these awards have existed, they have increased in numbers: from the initial handful to a staggering list of over 120…and counting. Concluding if one of these awards apply to you involves answering two clarifying questions: are you an employee or contractor, and what is your job description.

The first is the most difficult to answer; discerning the difference between employees and contractors can be a Herculean task. However, it is important to know which category of worker you are because only employees are covered by awards. In our upcoming book on employment law, we have provided a checklist that can help you discover which you are.

Once you have discerned that you are an employee according to Fair Work, you will then need to clarify your job description. Due to the mass of them, multiple awards may apply to you but it is vital to assign the one that aligns the most with your employment role. Let’s take the profession of event management. If you are an event manager or a show organiser, you may be covered by awards such as the Registered and Licensed Clubs Award, the Hospitality Industry (General Award) or the Amusement, Events and Recreation Award. What award applies to you here is dependent on whether you work for a club, restaurant or amusement park and what your actual defined tasks and roles are. In the classification section of each award, a description of the necessary skills and roles covered by the award can be found.

Understanding these awards, locating them and approaching your employer regarding your entitlements can be a difficult task to navigate. Therefore, to assist you in ‘navigating this maze’, we at the Quinn Group are soon to release a book that focuses on Fair Work entitlements and employment awards in detail. You can soon order a copy of ‘Everything you Need to Know about Employment and Contracting in Australia’. Further, over the next month, we will be examining employment topics in our legal articles. Be sure to watch this space!

Need Help?

If you have any queries about employment or would like assistance in finding your applicable award, please feel free to contact our team of experienced accountants and lawyers by clicking here to submit an online enquiry form, calling us on 1300 QUINNS or alternatively, +61 2 9223 9166 to arrange a teleconference or appointment.