The National Wage Case has an impact on all employment every year, and no more than this year, where a staggered pay rate increase has caused confusion and concern among businesses and employees.  ACAPMA produces the Quick Reference Guides for the fuel industry awards, providing members with a summary of the key provisions of the awards and a highlight on the pay rates.  Despite the pay increase being delayed (until 1/11/2020 for the administrative and fuel wholesale and transport staff, and until 1/2/2021 for the fuel retail staff), and despite the fact that the final Expense Determinations have not been published yet, ACAPMA is releasing the Quick Reference Guides later today.  The Quick Reference Guides, along with resources to assist members in communicating the unprecedented staggered pay increases, will be sent directly to members and to those staff of members that have registered to receive the Guides.

WHY VERSION 1

Each year, following the publication of the final Wage and Expense Determinations of the Fair Work Commission as a result of the National Wage Case, the ACAPMA Employment Department produces a summary of the new pay rates and key provisions for the fuel industry Awards in the form of a Quick Reference Guide.  These Quick Reference Guides do not cover all of the provisions of the Award, just the most common.  These Quick Reference Guides are circulated prior to 1/7 each year to allow members to understand the changes and update their internal systems ready for the standard increase.

The ACAPMA Quick Reference Guides were not distributed to Principle Members prior to 1/7, as is ACAPMAs custom.  This was due to ACAPMA awaiting the Final Expense Determinations that have yet to be released by the Fair Work Commission for the fuel industry’s three Awards.  Those Expense Determinations have still not been published, however, rather than prolong the wait any further ACAPMA has decided to release the Quick Reference Guides with the information that is known now.  What has been finalised and published are the final Wage Determinations.  So while the actual amount for the Expense Allowances is not known, the Wages that will apply, and when, is known.

The result of this publication of the Quick Reference Guides before all of the information is known is that these Guides are in Version 1 format and, when it comes to the Expense Determination amounts (like meal allowance etc) that will apply in Period 2 of the year, these are listed in the Guide as TBA.  ACAPMA will issue Version 2 Guides as soon as the Expense Determinations for these Awards are published by the Fair Work Commission.

STAGGERED PAY INCREASES

As explored here;https://acapmag.com.au/2020/06/national-wage-case-decision-2020-and-its-implications/ and here; https://acapmag.com.au/2020/06/national-wage-case-exploring-the-staggered-pay-increases/ This years National Wage Case has been unlike any other. This years Guides will also look very different than the typical Guide.  This is to accommodate the unprecedented Staggered Pay Increases.  The Guides are split into two Periods to reflect the first wage rates for the financial year, and then the staggered increase.

CAUTION is advised – these Staggered Pay Increases are an opportunity for confusion and thus compliance issues.  It is strongly suggested that members take the time now to understand when the increase will impact them – noting that it will apply to the first full pay period on or after the Staggered Pay Increase Start Date – and book a meeting in your calendar now that is set for just before the increase is going to come into effect based on your own pay period structure, with your payroll staff to discuss the steps that will need to be taken.  Given the unprecedented nature of this process it is also strongly suggested that you book a meeting in your calendar now that is set for just AFTER the pay increase comes into effect in your business, to review the payroll and ensure that is reflects the required changes appropriately.

As per paragraph 466 of the National Wage Case Decision (https://www.fwc.gov.au/documents/decisionssigned/html/pdf/2020fwcfb3500.pdf#page=116) the pay rates for the fuel industry Awards will be impacted as follows;

Award:  Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010

Applies to:  Administrative Staff

Pay Period 1:  From 1/7/2020-the last full pay period before 1/11/2020 the current 2019/2020 pay rates will apply

Pay Period 2:  From the first full pay period on or after 1/11/2020, the pay rate will increase and will apply until 30/6/2021

Award:  Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010

Applies to:  Fuel wholesale and transport Staff

Pay Period 1:  From 1/7/2020-the last full pay period before 1/11/2020 the current 2019/2020 pay rates will apply

Pay Period 2:  From the first full pay period on or after 1/11/2020, the pay rate will increase and will apply until 30/6/2021

Award:  Vehicle Repair Service and Retail Award 2010

Applies to:  Fuel Retail Staff – console operator, roadhouse attendant, driveway attendant

Pay Period 1:  From 1/7/2020-the last full pay period before 1/2/2021 the current 2019/2020 pay rates will apply

Pay Period 2:  From the first full pay period on or after 1/2/2021, the pay rate will increase and will apply until 30/6/2021

APPLYING AND COMMUNICATING THE INCREASE

It is important to note that the increases will have a flow on effect to other employment instruments.  If the business uses an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA) or Collective/Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (CA/EBA), then it is a requirement that the rates within those Agreements “keep pace” with the Award, this means that when the Award increases the rates in those Agreements will (almost always) increase as well.

It is also important to communicate this unprecedented staggered pay increase to the employees.  It is best practice to issue staff with a Confirmation of Employment each year to ensure that staff understand their employment, their status, the employment instrument that applies to them and their classification under that instrument – as well as other vital information like guaranteed hours, entitlement to paid leave and termination and notice requirements.

Undertaking this process is even more important in the light of the staggered increases.  Members are reminded to add something to the effect of:  Please note that as per the National Wage Case Decision the pay increase for this Award will not come into effect until the first full pay period on or after XX/XX/XXXX to their Confirmation of Employment letters.  ACAPMA has produced a Confirmation of Employment Guide that includes template letters for permanent and casual staff for members to use.  For those members who have a large number of staff to send letters to a Mail Merge Letter and Excel Source document has been developed. 

JOBKEEPER

It is important to note that for those participating in JobKeeper the Wage Condition states that the employee must receive at least $1,500 before tax per fortnight or payment for the actual hours worked in the fortnight – whichever is the higher amount.  This amount will not change with the new financial year and will not change with the staggered pay increases.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

I employ under an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA), do I have to do anything?

If your business is engaging staff under the Award but with the use of an IFA to create a common hourly (or Racked) rate to account for allowances and other penalties it is important that you review the IFA to ensure that the employees are still Better Off Overall, when the new pay rates and allowance calculations are taken into account.

I employ under an Enterprise or Collective Agreement, do I have to do anything?

If your business is engaging staff under an Enterprise or Collective Agreement it is important that you review the Agreement to ensure that the employees are still Better Off Overall, when the new pay rates and allowance calculations are taken into account. 

Do I have to pass on the pay increase?

If your business is currently paying Award rates, then yes you will need to pass on the increase.  However, if you are currently paying above Award rates and have identified the right of absorption, then you have the option of absorbing some or all of the increase, and thus not increasing rates paid to staff, or increasing by a lesser amount.  If you have questions about this please just email employment@acapma.com.au

What if I pay above Award rates now?

If your business is currently paying staff above the rates that are listed in the attached Quick Reference Guides at the particular dates, then you can choose to ‘absorb’ the pay rate increase into the above Award amounts, which would mean that you would not need to increase your pay rate – but ONLY if you have provision to absorb Award rate increases in your engagement documents.  It is important to ensure that all amounts, including allowances are above those in the attached.  It is up to the business if they choose to communicate to staff that the recent National Wage Case and Award Rate increases have been absorbed into the current above Award pay rates that the employee is receiving and as such their pay rate will not be changing at this time.

Do I have to tell my staff?

While you do not have to notify staff of this change to the pay rates, it is best practice to communicate to your staff at least once a year to confirm their employment conditions.  A new financial year and the pay rate changes offers an excellent opportunity to do this.  Ideally a Confirmation of Employment Letter, which is similar to a Letter Of Offer, should be sent to employees.  Like the Letter Of Offer the Confirmation of Employment Letter would include; business name, job role, employment instrument, classification under that instrument, as well as other business specific employment conditions or benefits.  The ACAPMA Confirmation of Employment Guide and mail Merge Resources are attached for your reference.

Can I get some help?

As always if you require further information or assistance with this or any other employment issue please do not hesitate to contact us on 1300 160 270 or email employment@acapma.com.au

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