In the constantly changing compliance environment it is important to take some time to review the business systems and approach to ensure that they reflect best practice and are appropriate for the business size, style and operation. It is staggering how quickly a business can outgrow a process that used to work for them, or how quickly a small change that is missed can lead to large issues later on. This latest HR Highlight Series is all about going Back to Basics – ensuring that the simple systems and requirements are understood and operational, so that we can build on them and focus on the growth of the business.

Back to Basics – Part 1

This Series will start right at the beginning. We will explore the fundamentals of getting employment right from day one. This week we will focus on the ever present questions;

  • Which Award are my staff covered by?
  • What Classification are my staff?

Which Award?

It is imperative for businesses to classify employees using the correct employment instrument.  In the downstream petroleum industry there are three Awards that cover most employment types;

What Classification?

Finding the correct Award is only part of the journey.  Time needs to be taken to understand the classifications within the Award, to ensure that the business is meeting its minimum requirements.

To decide which classification to apply see Schedule B of the Award.  Schedule B outlines the job tasks or qualifications that are considered to be under each classification as per the Award.  It is important to remember that the job title that is applied in the business may reflect a different set of job tasks, and therefore a different classification under the Award.  The Commission will consider what the Award says a role should have been classified as, not what the job title says.

For Example in Fiction Co they had a job title that was “Junior Assistant” and the Pretend Manager, assuming that to mean the lowest level of administrative assistant, started Staff Guy using the Level 1 classification from the Clerks Award.  However, after a dispute the Commission looked at the job tasks of the role, and using Schedule B determined that “Junior Assistant” was actually undertaking Level 3 tasks.

When classifying a job role it is helpful to have a document to compare with Schedule B, such as a Position Description that outlines the actual job tasks.

PRO TIP:  When reviewing the classifications in Schedule B it is important to review all classifications before selecting one to apply to a job role, as many classifications will have the same or very similar tasks listed in them, the difference often comes down to the level of responsibility, accountability or autonomy a task.

The classification applied should be documented.  The rationale behind the application of a particular classification should be documented in an internal email (such as between a line manager and the director).  The application of the classification to a job role should also be communicated to the employee to avoid confusion.  This is particularly important when paying above Award rates.

Back to Basics Part 2

In Part 2 of the Series we will explore the role of a Position Description, and how to ensure this vital document is updated and communicated well.

Here to Help

HR Highlights are things to consider, implement and watch out for in your business.

They are provided as general advice and you should seek further advice on your situation. Members can do this by emailing

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