By Heidi Bishop, Senior HR Consultant

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has been very busy over the last few months conducting their four yearly review of Modern Awards along with their annual review of minimum wages.

Do you know what the correct payments are for your award covered employees?

I’m sure we can all recall some level of detail but absolute clarity around changes to hourly pay rates, Award provisions and conditions might get a little vague. In case you are unaware, the FWC increased the minimum wage on 1 July 2017.

It’s important to ensure as an employer, you are up to date with industrial relations matters and Award changes for a number of reasons the key one being the retention of happy and engaged employees. Having worked in banking, payroll and human resources for a number of years, there is nothing surer than ‘messing with someone else’s money’. It never ends well. No one wants to be the next 7-Eleven – in the headlines for all the wrong reasons!

Sometimes inadvertently, you may miss paying a meal allowance or the correct overtime rate after two hours but regular underpayment of wages due to your lack of attention or focusing on other important business matters will not win you any friends within your employee ranks or with the Fair Work Ombudsman for that matter.

So a summary of just a few FWC changes of recent – minimum wage has increased and annual leave accruals can now be cashed out (across all awards). In addition, there are a number of changes to provisions in specific awards such as the Pharmacy award, for minimum shift requirements along with payment of overtime to casual employees.

It is important to proactively seek out information about Modern Awards from the Fair Work Ombudsman so you are informed and compliant. It’s also good practice to periodically audit your payroll – none of us are perfect so early detection and rectification of any pay anomalies will get you a far better outcome than pleading ignorance down the track. Unfortunately ignorance of the law is not a defence and the Australian Tax Office views such anomalies in a dim light. Self-regulation is a wonderful thing when you comply and when you don’t the penalties are quite harsh!

So, this leads me to the $6,000 question: “Are you paying your employees under the right award, classification and conditions?”

If you have that sinking feeling that you have taken your eye off the ball lately or that Award interpretation is not your strong suit, we can assist you in a number of ways here at EastCoast Human Resource Group. This includes:

  • WageSmart – our payroll administration service which can help look after all your payroll needs. WageSmart also helps with payroll audits to ensure businesses are compliant.
  • Employee Relations masterclass which provide practical information and guidance on your obligations as an employer.
  • Human resource consulting where we can answer any questions and provide support in terms of human resource frameworks – employment agreements, policies, procedures and systems.