Some inspiration to get you excited about industrial Awards (or, "Don't ignore the boring bits")




Perhaps it’s just my particular brand of nerdiness, but I get a real buzz when I am working on a workforce puzzle, and suddenly, it clicks. When the whirl of all desperate tasks, workflows, accountabilities, personalities and capabilities click and you suddenly see the picture as a whole.


There is an energy to that piece of work, and there can be a real sense of renewal for business leaders when they see a whole new way of working open up.


But you can see people’s eyes glaze over when it comes to the not so glamourous bits. That is, how to construct a workforce that is not just going to deliver you excellent outcomes but is also compliant with your employer obligations from a FairWork perspective.


In actuality, this piece of the puzzle can be potent. When you understand how you need to pay people, based on things like the level of their role or the time of day they work, you can create a truly economically savvy and productive workforce. It provides a framework that enables you to package up tasks to get the greatest output for your salary dollar or plan your hours of operation so that work is being done at the most cost-effective time for you.


You can consider ways in which you might use individual flexibility agreements to harness employees’ desire for flexibility and couple it with your particular productivity requirements. It is hugely helpful to understand how you can offset above Award salaries against penalty rates. Or averaging clauses in Awards that allow for different shift lengths across the week/fortnight or month.


If you don’t incorporate this kind of input, it can be very easy to accidentally end up plastered on the front page of the paper as the latest wage thief at worst – or simply find you’ve been leaving money on the table at best.


Get in touch if you would like assistance in this area. Or, if you are bootstrapping, FairWork provides an excellent free service to employers about Award Coverage (the basis for your planning), penalty rates and Award interpretation. Finally, services such as industry bodies or chambers of commerce often provide Industrial Relations advisory services to their members.


I can’t tell you how often I come across employers spending more than they need to on salary – or spending it in a less effective way than they could. Better to spend that money on great talent, building your business … or a myriad of other things than an unintentionally inefficient workforce.