The Fair Work Act provides that the Commission must review all modern awards every four years. The first 4 yearly review commenced in February 2014 and is expected to run until late 2015. This review is broader than the Transitional Review that commenced in 2012 and concluded at the end of 2013. The 4 yearly review will deal with some applications that were considered outside the scope of the Transitional Review.

The review has three stages:

  • an Initial stage (dealing with jurisdictional issues)
  • a Common Issues stage, and
  • an Award stage.

The Initial stage is complete. The Common Issues stage commenced in April 2014 and is ongoing, dealing with:

  • annual leave
  • award flexibility/facilitative provisions
  • casual employment
  • part-time employment
  • public holidays
  • transitional/sunset provisions relating to accident pay, redundancy and district allowances, and
  • any additional common issues added over the course of the review.

The Award stage commenced in May 2014 with a series of conferences. This stage will see each of the 122 modern awards reviewed in its own right in accordance with the objectives of section 134 of the Fair Work Act.

Extensive consultation will occur, during which interested persons may suggest amendments to one or more awards. It is also expected that the Commission will propose a number of technical and drafting changes.

Following a consultation period, a guide to the Award stage was published on the Commission’s website, together with an exemplar award prepared by Commission staff which seeks to address some of the structural issues identified in modern awards.

Special efforts are being made to capture the views of users of awards from the small business sector who are not, traditionally, active participants in the workplace relations system. Research was undertaken to elicit their views on the usability of current modern awards and the exemplar award. The findings of this research will assist the Commission to develop modern awards that are more accessible to those who are not familiar with the current awards system.

All submissions, correspondence, transcripts, decisions and determinations relating to the review will be published on the Commission’s website.