Modern award wages

Modern awards commenced operation from 1 January 2010. All businesses now observe the pay and conditions contained within the modern awards, however, some apprentices will continue to be covered by the state system and not the modern award.

Companies incorporated prior to 27 March 2006, who have paid apprentices under the Apprentices – building – transitional wage circular 2016 are advised that the apprentice wages may be subject to a decision of the Fair Work Commission in February 2017.  

Fair Work Commission Decision

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) issued a significant decision in February 2017 on the application of special regulations for Queensland businesses incorporated prior to 27 March 2006 that have engaged an apprentice under laws, which preserved Queensland Apprentice Orders.

The decision reversed the widely accepted interpretation that these regulations were still in force. This meant that apprentices engaged by these incorporated employers after the regulations ended should be under the relevant Modern Award not the Queensland Apprentice Orders. For employers covered by the Building and Construction On-site Award 2010 the decision may have retrospectively to 1 January 2015.

We’re working with the governments involved on a suitable solution for members and the industry. We are concerned our members may be exposed by this decision, despite having followed Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) advice on apprentice’s wages or advice that was endorsed by the FWO.

If your business was incorporated before 27 March 2006 and you’ve engaged a new apprentice since 1 January 2015, please register with our Workplace Relations team.

The FWC decision is not a legal claim on you to make any back pay. Legal claims can be made to the relevant tribunal by, or on behalf of, an existing apprentice or someone who was previously indentured to you. 

Modern Award Manual

Master Builders Modern Award Manual (Fourth Edition) provides employers with comprehensive guidance about the main modern award for the construction sector – the Building and Construction General On-Site Award 2010.

The manual provides:

  • Plain English interpretation
  • Links to key decisions by Fair Work Commission
  • Practical examples
  • Essential historical and industrial relations perspectives.

Updated annually from 1 July for any amendments by Fair Work Commission (including its minimum wage decisions), the manual is the must-have publication for all employers trying to navigate this complex modern award. 

Purchase the manual from the eShop.

Modern award flexibility

Modern awards also contain a flexibility term, which means employers and employees may negotiate changes to meet their individual needs relating to issues specified in the clause, providing that:

  • There is a genuine agreement to do so
  • The conditions don’t dip below the award
  • The employee is better off under the agreement.

For a copy of the template for a flexibility agreement, you can phone us or email us.

Please have your Master Builders membership number handy when you call.