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Dispute resolution under Modern Awards

Situation: your employees are threatening to walk off the job, citing they are not being paid correctly. A challenging situation. But knowing your rights under the dispute resolution process in the applicable award can save you time, money and negative impact on your business reputation.

Modern awards (awards) are legal documents outlining the minimum pay rates and conditions of employment for most people who work in Australia. There are currently 122 awards applying to employers and employees, depending on the industry they work in and the type of job worked.

While the specifics of each award differ, they share common content, including:

  • Application and Operation
  • Consultation and Dispute Resolution
  • Types of Employment and Termination of Employment
  • Classification and Minimum Wage Rates
  • Hours of Work and Related Matters

Employers with a basic understanding of awards have the opportunity to utilise the content of the applicable award to ensure their business operates at optimal potential. One example? When addressing an employee/employer dispute in the workplace.

The Consultation and Dispute Resolution section of an award sets out the procedures to be followed if a dispute arises about a matter under the award or in relation to the National Employment Standards (NES).

Let’s use the dispute resolution clause (clause 9) wording on the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 Award as an example:

9.8 While procedures are being followed under clause 9 in relation to a dispute:

(a) work must continue in accordance with this award and the Act; and

(b) an employee must not unreasonably fail to comply with any direction given by the employer about performing work, whether at the same or another workplace, that is safe and appropriate for the employee to perform.

Any exceptions? A couple, but that’s why smart businesses team up with Bare Bones Consulting when they need HR advice tailored to their business. While it would be nice to live in a mythical world of unicorns, zero Kardashians and always harmonious workplaces, that’s simply not reality.  But when you know your legal rights around dispute resolution and employment matters in general, you can stop disputes escalating into situations with detrimental impact on your business reputation, viability and profitability. That’s smart.

Like to know more? Give us a call or shoot us an email through the Contact Us page on our website…we’d love to hear from you!

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