There are a lot of changes happening with the Award system in Australia that you need to be aware of.
Under the Fair Work Act the number of Awards is currently under review and all Awards are going through a ‘modernisation’ process. This process started in 2010 and will continue through to the end of 2013. This review is being overseen by the Fair Work Commission.
What is an Award?
An award is like a rule book that spells out the minimum wages and protections covering a certain industry, occupation or company. It covers important issues like pay rates, hours of work, rest breaks and allowances. An Award is a legally enforceable document.
The National Employment Standards or NES
The National Employment Standards apply to everyone in the workforce no matter what award, agreement or employment contract covers them. There are 10 National Employment Standards that are contained in the Fair Work Act.
The conditions in an award or agreement have to be the same or better than the National Employment Standards. If they’re not as good, they don’t apply and the NES apply instead.
What Award applies to staff in Tab Agencies?
You are currently covered by the Off Course Agency Employees Award. This Award is what’s known as an ‘Enterprise’ Award as it covers a particular company, or in your case a group of Agents all under the Tabcorp banner through a franchise arrangement.
Under the Award Modernisation process Enterprise Awards are due to expire at the end of 2013. Under the legislation two things can happen at the end of 2013 to your Award:
1. Your current Award can be made into a Modern Award and so it continues on, or
2. It can be replaced by another modern Award that already exists
Based on previous cases we know that the most likely Modern Award that may apply to your work (if the current Award doesn’t) is the Clerks Modern Award. Some employers in the industry favour the Retail Award. The ASU does not agree that this is the correct Award for the work undertaken by Tab Agency staff. The other option is that the Off Course Agency Employees Award can operate as a modern Award.
The union for Tabcorp Operators, both On Course and Off Course, The Australian Services Union, will be acting to ensure that your Award conditions are protected during the modernisation process.
In the case of the Off Course Agency Employees Award we will be holding negotiations with the Victorian Off Course Agents Association, that represents many Agents in Victoria, about the future of your Award in the coming weeks and months.