Major changes to building and construction award

Major changes to building and construction award

Latest News & Events

Major changes to Building and Construction Award  

Over the past few months, there have been a number of decisions made by the Fair Work Commission which have resulted in significant changes to the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010. 

These are variously associated with the 2019-2020 Annual Wage Review, the modern award review process and temporary arrangements that have been introduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Details of all of these changes are set out below. 

2019-2020 Annual Wage Review

The Fair Work Commission recently handed down the 2019-2020 Annual Wage Review decision which was to increase the national minimum wage and award minimum wages by 1.75%. 

Unusually this year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic impact on businesses, they decided to set different operative dates for different industries – in the case of the building and construction and trades awards, that date is 1 November 2020 (rather than the standard date of 1 July that normally applies). 

Employers should check that employees’ wages are at or above award wage level including allowance for any award conditions set off in remuneration. 

The current Fair Work Ombudsman Pay Guide for this Award can be accessed at Building and Construction General On-site Award [MA000020] Pay Guide  

This will be updated from 1 November 2020 when the new rates take effect.  

Modern award review 

The modern award review process which has been going on since 2013 has a resulted in a number of changes to calculation of minimum wages, the treatment and application of allowances, arrangement of ordinary hours of work and RDOs and various other matters – these generally take effect from 1 July 2020. 

Simplification of minimum award wage calculations 

The Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 has had an extremely complicated method of calculating the award rate for each classification level in the Award. 

This involved firstly identifying the base rate applicable to the relevant classification level and then adding a Special Allowance off $7.70 per week (something that was created years ago to give employees a pay rise when the rules didn’t allow for one) and then adding an industry allowance and, if the employee qualified,  a variety of other allowances could apply. 

The industry allowance was intended to compensate employees for the nature of the industry but additionally there were a number of allowances and special rates that applied on top of this.

From 1 July 2020, the method for calculating ordinary time rates for weekly employees (as per Clause 19.3 (b) of the Award) is by adding the minimum wage specified and the industry allowance for the industry sector and then any of the following that have application to the employee in question: 

  • Tools and protective or other clothing or equipment (Clause 20.1)
  • Underground allowance (Clause 22.2)
  • Air-conditioning and refrigeration industry allowances (Clause 22.7)
  • Electrician’s licence allowance (Clause 22.8)
  • In charge of plant allowance (Clause 22.9) 

Industry Allowance 

The industry allowance has been amended to reflect a single industry allowance that replaces and compensates for the Special Allowance and a number of complex industry, disability and expense related allowances have been removed in the Award.  The rate for the industry allowance is based on the relevant construction sector and has been defined as a percentage of the “weekly standard rate” (standard rate means either the weekly or hourly minimum wage as stated for a Level 3 (CW/ECW 3) employee in clause 19.1). There is one rate for the commercial building industry (6% of the weekly standard rate = $51.75 per week) and a second for the residential building industry (4.8% of the weekly standard rate = $41.40 per week). 

Tool Allowance 

The tool allowance has also been revised to make it clear that employees are entitled to the allowance to cover maintaining their existing tools, not just purchasing new tools. Employees are also now entitled to be reimbursed for steel capped boots they are required to wear. 

Fares and travel pattern allowance

A significant change relates to the fares and travel pattern allowance employees receive. This allowance is normally $17.43 per day. Employees will now only receive this allowance, where they: 

  • start and finish their work day on a construction site; or
  • are required to perform prefabricated work in an open yard and are then required to erect or fix the pre-fabricated materials on-site. 

So employees who start and finish at a depot and are transported in paid time to and from the construction site are generally not eligible for the allowance. 

Additionally, Employees will no longer receive the travel allowance if they are offered free transport to the site or provided with a vehicle. Employees will also no longer get the allowance on days they do not work, like on an RDO or leave day. 

Living away from home allowance 

The Award amendments clarify an employer’s obligations in relation to this allowance. There are now clear options as to how entitlements are to be provided and how meal expenses can be reimbursed as follows: 

(i) pay the employee the greater of $72.02 per day or an amount which fully reimburses the employee for all reasonable accommodation and meal expenses incurred; or 

(ii) provide the worker with accommodation and three adequate meals each day; or

(iii) provide the worker with accommodation and reimburse the employee for all reasonable meal expenses; or 

(iv) where employees are required to live in camp, provide all board and accommodation free of charge. 

Rostered Days Off (RDOs)

The Award now provides greater flexibility in relation to RDOs. This includes allowing for the banking of RDOs and allowing an agreement to be reached between the employee and employer as to how and when an RDO is taken. 

Capping of daily ordinary hours 

Ordinary hours of work for part-time and casual employees have been capped at 8 hours per day. This means that any hours worked in excess of 8 hours per day by a part-time or casual employee are overtime and payable at overtime rates. 

It should be noted that, for full-time employees, the award prescribes that, unless the employer and a majority of employees agree otherwise, an RDO arrangement applies whereby 19 days of 8 hours and 1 RDO make up each 20 days (4 weeks) worked. 

If the employer and employees agree on a variation to that arrangement, no more than 8 ordinary hours can be worked in one day. 

Under any hours of work arrangement, full-time employees may work no more than 38 ordinary hours can be worked in one week (or an average of 38 hours over 4 weeks). 

Time off in lieu of overtime 

The Award now allows an employer and employee to agree to take time off instead of being paid for overtime that has been worked. This ability is limited to weekly full-time and part-time employees and time off is calculated on the basis of the hours of overtime actually worked. Time off must be taken within 6 months. There are a number of other conditions attached to time off in lieu arrangements that must be complied with. 

Payment of annual leave loading 

The Award now simplifies how annual leave loading is to be calculated – on the employee’s ordinary rate of pay rather than the complicated arrangement that existed previously.

Employers should familiarise themselves with the proposed changes to ensure that from the start of the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020, their employees are being paid correctly and in line with any amendments to the Building Award. 

Please note that the modern award review process has not been completed for the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 but that should occur in the next few months – when it has, the “2010” will be replaced with “2020.   

Additional measures during the COVID-19 pandemic 

There is a new Schedule X  in the Award setting out temporary flexibilities with leave during the COVID-19 pandemic – these apply for the period from 11 August 2020 to 30 September 2020. 

These provide that: 

  • employees can take up to 2 weeks if the employee is required by government or medical authorities or on the advice of a medical practitioner to self-isolate and is consequently prevented from working, or is otherwise prevented from working by measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • instead of an employee taking paid annual leave on full pay, the employee and their employer may agree to the employee taking twice as much leave on half pay.
  • A number of conditions are attached to these arrangements. 

Given the current business and civil restrictions applying in Victoria, it could be expected that there will be an extension to the period of operation of these arrangements.

Need some help?

Just give us a call on 0438 533 311 or send us an enquiry through the contact form below and we will be happy to have a conversation about your needs and how we can help. 


Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
Abn : 24 091 644 094

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

Peter Maguire : 0438 533 311

Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm


High Court delivers sanity in ruling on personal/carer’s leave

High Court delivers sanity in ruling on personal/carer’s leave

Latest News & Events


High Court delivers sanity in ruling on personal/carer’s leave

In fantastic news for all businesses, the High Court of Australia has sensibly overturned a Federal Court decision which quite unfairly awarded part-time employees the same number of days of paid personal/carer’s leave as full-time employees, regardless of the number of hours that the part-timer actually worked.

For example, a part-time employee working 2 days per week would also have 10 days personal/carer’s leave per annum – effectively 5 weeks paid leave based on their ordinary hours of work.

That was clearly a ridiculous decision which clearly disregarded the obvious intention of the relevant provisions of the Fair Work Act and decades of custom and practice.

What is also great is that, in its decision, the High Court has set some clear and sensible principles as to how to determine how much personal/carer’s leave employees get:

  • The 10 day entitlement in the National Employment Standards means two standard five day working weeks
  • 1 day is a notional day that represents 1/10th of an employee’s ordinary hours in a fortnight or 1/26th of an employee’s ordinary hours per year

What do you need to do?

You just need to ensure that your administration of personal/carer’s leave and the entitlements that your people receive align with the principles set out above. 

The Fair Work Ombudsman has updated their advice accordingly and this can be accessed here.

If you have any queries, please feel free to contact us at



Ridgeline Human Resources Pty Ltd
Abn : 24 091 644 094

6 Ellesmere Ave, Croydon Victoria 3136

Peter Maguire : 0438 533 311

Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm


1.75% Wage Increase for Modern Awards

1.75% Wage Increase for Modern Awards

On Friday 19 June 2020, the Fair Work Commission announced its decision in the 2019-2020 Annual Wage Review.

That decision was to increase the National Minimum Wage and modern award minimum rates of pay by 1.75% but, unusually this year, with three different operative dates for different industries based on their view on the impact of COVID-19 on different industry sectors.

The National Minimum Wage increases from

The effective dates are:

  • 1 July 2020: National Minimum Wage & Award Group 1 (mainly health and community services, children’s services and aged care, emergency services, cleaning services, non-tertiary education and public service sectors)
  • 1 November 2020: Award Group 2 (most awards including common ones like clerical, building and trades, manufacturing, graphic arts, gardening, farming, transport and distribution, professional services, mining and quarrying, tertiary education)
  • 1 February 2021: Award Group 3: (mainly retail, hospitality, food services, events, recreation and entertainment, personal services such as fitness, hair dressing and dry cleaning)

Here is a detailed listing of each Award group: Modern Award Groups

The new rates are payable from the commencement of the first full pay period occurring on or after the relevant operative date.

For employers, the different scenarios that can apply are:

  1. If you have employees who are covered by a modern award and you otherwise apply all of the terms and conditions of the award, you must ensure that employees are paid at least the award rate for their classification as adjusted for this decision.
  2. If you have employees who are award free and not covered by an enterprise agreement, you must ensure that they are paid at least the National Minimum Wage as adjusted for this decision.
  3. If you have employees who are covered by an award and you pay them on an annualized wage basis or on a salary or all purpose rate which sets off certain monetary employment conditions such as annual leave loading, overtime and shift loadings, penalty payments and allowances, you need to recalculate the rate of pay to ensure that the employee remains better off overall against award entitlements and comply with any award provisions that might apply to annualized wage arrangement.
  4. If you have employees who are covered by an enterprise agreement which provides for annual adjustment of wages in line with Annual wage Review decisions of the Fair Work Commission, you need to adjust wages by 1.75% from the operative date for the relevant award.
  5. If you have employees who are covered by an enterprise agreement but the agreement does not provide for annual adjustment as per 4., you need to ensure that wages paid are at least equal to those applying to the underpinning modern awards or the National Minimum Wage as applicable from the relevant operative date.
  6. You need also to have regard to any provisions in employment contracts which might provide an obligation to pass on any increases separate from or additional to any of the above scenarios.

Please also note that, the ongoing modern award review process has resulted in a number of changes to modern awards (including, in some cases, changes to the calculation of minimum wages and also changes to the calculation of annualized wages) since the last Annual Wage Review.

This likely also means that you will need to review your employment contracts, something that we recommend that you do at least once a year in any case.

The Fair Work Ombudsman has a Pay Calculator Tool on its website and also publishes Pay Guides for each award – these provide detailed advice on ordinary time and overtime and penalty rates for each classification in the relevant award. You can access these resources at

If you need assistance in understanding and applying the effects of this decision in your business, we are happy to assist. We offer a free initial phone consultation if this is of interest to you.


Is the new Wage Theft law a worry?

Is the new Wage Theft law a worry?

The Victorian Parliament recently passed the Wage Theft Bill 2020 which is expected to take effect by no later than 1 July 2021 (ie sometime in the next 12 months).

Should you be worried about that?

The odds are that, if you are reading our blogs, you are compliant or you want to ensure that you are compliant with your wage obligations as an employer.

If that is the case, don’t worry about the Wage Theft legislation – celebrate it! Yes, that’s right – PARTY!!!

We all know that there are unscrupulous businesses out there who deliberately rip workers off – they are the ones that this legislation is targeted at and they deserve it.

Don’t forget that they are also unfairly gaining a commercial advantage over the business owners who are doing the right thing…… you!

We know that there have been quite a few celebrated cases of wage underpayments involving celebrities and household name corporates.

Some of those probably did know that they were not compliant but thought they wouldn’t be caught.

Some probably got adventurous legal advice that sounded good but was really ill advised.

Others may well have had their own HR staff but Fair Work/workplace relations is a very complex field requiring specialist knowledge which is not as common as you might think among HR Practitioners.

Many of those exposed businesses have learned their lessons – the hard way – and many remain under the watchful eye of the Fair Work Ombudsman via undertakings and reporting requirements. So even they are unlikely to be really troubled by this new Wage Theft legislation.

So let’s just be clear on what do you need to do to be doing the right thing (if you are not already doing it) and not have to worry about this legislation:

  1. Ensure that you understand and meet your obligations to your employees under legislation, regulations and modern awards
  2. Have clear and compliant employment agreements that set out clearly what the wages and employment conditions are and which reference any relevant modern award and/or enterprise agreement
  3. Maintain all required employment records accurately and up to date and
  4. Have access to competent professional advice on Fair Work compliance and other workplace relations/HRM matters

You tick those 4 boxes and you are not likely to have any worries about compliance. We can help you with that.

Now, as for the bad guys, this is what the Wage Theft legislation means for them.

The offences (in general terms) are:

  1. Dishonestly withholding at least part of an employee entitlement; or
  2. Falsifying an employee entitlement record to dishonestly obtain or cover up a financial advantage; or
  3. Failing to keep an employee entitlement record to dishonestly obtain or cover up a financial advantage;

Offences can attract penalties of up to $991,320 for bodies corporate and 10 years’ jail for individuals.

A Victorian Wage Inspectorate with wide ranging inspection and enforcement powers is to be established with its own Commissioner.

If you haven’t the benefit of professional advice on your workplace relations compliance situation or you just want to make sure, you might want to take advantage of our Lockdown Special Offer on a Fair Work Compliance Assessment. Check it out.


National wellbeing survey delivers a wake up call for employers

National wellbeing survey delivers a wake up call for employers

The Wellbeing Lab 2020 Workplace Report, the third of its kind produced by the Wellbeing Lab in conjunction with The Australian Human Resources Institute, is out, this year with a follow up piece on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the key findings were not all that surprising for example:

  • That people who experience struggle and stress can be more resilient and better able to look after their own wellbeing
  • That struggle is a part of life and normalising struggle in workplace conversations is important for supporting people’s wellbeing
  • That one size does not fit all and workplaces need a diverse approach with different ways of supporting wellbeing and not just an EAP

On the other hand, some findings were a real wakeup call:

  • Over a third of workplaces are providing no support for people’s wellbeing.
  • The most popular form of support offered by workplaces is EAPs (Employee Assistance Programs) but, wait for it…….EAPS were also seen as the least effective. In fact, just 3.3% of people said that the EAP is who they would ask for help when struggling.
  • Workers are most likely to ask someone outside work for help. Within the workplace, it would likely be a team member or their boss but, wait for it again…….they were least likely to go to HR for help (just 3.2%) just marginally behind the EAP (3.3%). Notably both of these numbers halved from the previous year’s survey.

So, based on these findings, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to say that the primary investments that most organisations are making in wellbeing (HR & EAP) are delivering the least return in wellbeing impact, would it? Interestingly and, from our perspective, not surprisingly, the survey found that wellbeing coaching (offered in less than 10% of workplaces) was seen as the most effective form of wellbeing support. There is a shift happening with organisations rebranding HR as “People and Culture” to provide at least an appearance of being more human-centred. However, the change from the corporate norm of a culture based on shareholder return, risk management, data analysis and process control to one which is truly centred on people is massive. At the core of that is enlightened and vulnerable leadership from the very top of the organisation, building quality relationships based on trust at all levels and across the whole of the organisation (business/teams/people) all underpinned by a common purpose and value set that is a lived experience every day. That includes how organisations, managers, teams and people manage wellbeing as a key element of managing the performance and development of the organisation and its people. So, the challenges are for the whole of the organisation and not just HR. They require a fundamentally different way of thinking and behaving and different skillsets and mindsets across the board, starting from the Board and including those working in the field of HR. How can we help? The report talks about there being 3 levels at which wellbeing needs to be worked on:

  • “Me” – our EngageMentality Performance Development process deals specifically with wellbeing
  • “We” – our EngageMentality Team Coaching process fosters team support for each other with an emphasis on positive relationships
  • “Us” – our Better Workplace Projects use a positive psychology approach to transform workplace culture and worker experience

So, the report is in – what are you going to do about it? You can access the Wellbeing Lab 2020 Workplace Report here. [/av_textblock]

Lots changed in 2019 and more coming in 2020

 As we transition in to the New Year, it is worth just checking that we are up to date with Fair Work and other changes that came in in 2019 and we are ready for what is coming. Here are some little reminders on what has already changed:

And a couple of new heads ups:

The modern award review process is still going in the Fair Work Commission 6 years after it started and we can expect more changes to awards in the year ahead. The other burning issue in 2019 was that of all of the cases of corporate underpayment of wages and the growing use of the term “wage theft”. This has prompted State and Federal Governments to explore the potential for criminal sanctions for deliberate wage theft – more coming on this no doubt in 2020. Anyone needing help with any of this or any employment matter, give Peter Maguire a call on 0438 533 311 for a free initial phone consultation. [/av_textblock]