Clifford Gouldson Lawyers

Fair Work Commission Decision Released - 23 Dec 2014

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Major amendments to apprentice employment conditions

As part of its review of all modern awards, Fair Work Commission has moved to amend 37 awards in a sweeping effort to create consistency throughout the employment sphere by ensuring all awards contain provisions relating to apprentices.
Prior to the Fair Work Commission’s decision of 17 December 2014, only 70% of Australian apprentices were covered by modern awards that provided relevant conditions of employment for an apprentice employee. The Commission’s decision will effectively bring the remaining 30% into line with the entitlements already available to apprentices under other modern awards. The aim of this amendment is to ensure that all modern awards provide a fair and relevant minimum “safety net” of terms and conditions for all apprentices.
The changes will come into operation on 1 January 2015 and include:

  • Payment by employers of apprentices’ excess travel costs for attendance at block release training at a distant location requiring an overnight stay, except where the apprentice could attend a closer RTO;  
  • Reimbursement by employers for the cost of training fees and prescribed textbooks within 6 months of commencement of an apprenticeship, unless there is unsatisfactory progress;  
  • Providing that an apprentice is entitled to be released from work to attend off-the-job training and assessment, that the time spent by apprentices in off-the-job training and assessment is to be regarded as time worked for the purposes of wages, working conditions and leave entitlements, and that all other conditions of employment specified in the award should apply to apprentices – along the lines of existing clauses in the National Training Wage Schedule;  
  • Provisions to ensure that, except in an emergency, apprentices cannot be required to work overtime or shiftwork if doing so would interfere with their attendance at training;  and  
  • Deleting any clauses which purport to exclude apprentices from some National Employment Standards (NES) provisions (e.g. notice of termination).

What might this mean for employers?
Employers will need to be mindful of the changes coming into effect on 1 January 2015 and consider reviewing existing employment contracts to ensure consistency with the amended apprentice conditions.  
For ease of reference, the 37 amended awards include:

  • Aged Care Award 2010
  • Airport Employees Award 2010
  • Alpine Resorts Award 2010
  • Aluminium Industry Award 2010
  • Amusement, Events and Recreation Award 2010
  • Black Coal Mining Industry Award 2010
  • Cemetery Industry Award 2010
  • Children’s Services Award 2010
  • Coal Export Terminals Award 2010
  • Dry Cleaning and Laundry Industry Award 2010
  • Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award 2010
  • Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award 2010
  • Gardening and Landscaping Services Award 2010
  • Gas Industry Award 2010
  • General Retail Industry Award 2010
  • Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010
  • Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2010
  • Higher Education Industry - General Staff - Award 2010
  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
  • Hydrocarbons Industry (Upstream) Award 2010
  • Local Government Industry Award 2010
  • Meat Industry Award 2010
  • Mining Industry Award 2010
  • Miscellaneous Award 2010
  • Nursery Award 2010
  • Oil Refinery and Manufacturing Award 2010
  • Port Authorities Award 2010
  • Racing Industry Ground Maintenance Award 2010
  • Rail Industry Award 2010
  • Registered and Licensed Clubs Award 2010
  • Restaurant Industry Award 2010
  • Salt Industry Award 2010
  • Stevedoring Industry Award 2010
  • Textile, Clothing, Footwear and Associated Industries Award 2010
  • Timber Industry Award 2010
  • Water Industry Award 2010
  • Wine Industry Award 2010

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