A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has issued a significant decision in the four- yearly review of modern award proceedings. The decision related to the substantive claims of employer groups (including Master Builders) and unions to vary the Building and Construction General On-Site Award 2010 (On-Site Award), the Joinery and Building Trades Award 2010 (Joinery Award), the Mobile Crane Hiring Award 2010 and the Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2010.

During the proceedings, which commenced back in 2014, Master Builders filed a substantial number of claims to vary the On-Site and Joinery Awards.  Those claims included seeking improvements to the Payment of Wages, Shift Work and RDO provisions, as well simplifying the complex arrangements associated with the payment of allowances. Master Builders also devoted substantial effort to countering the unions’ claims, which included the CFMEU’s proposal to significantly expand the Living Away From Home Allowance in the On-Site Award. 

A number of aspects of the 183-page decision can be viewed as positive for the industry, with the Full Bench taking the opportunity to address a number of outdated and inflexible provisions -- making significant improvements to the RDO, Hours of Work and Fares and Travel clauses. The Full Bench decision also accepted Master Builders’ argument that the model Time Off In Lieu (TOIL) provision should be included within the On-Site and Joinery Awards; the need for an additional category of Shift Work to address a gap within the On-Site Award; and the need for employers and employees to be able to make Alternative Working Arrangements by agreement provided they have been agreed by the ‘majority’ of employees.

Despite the decision, a number of issues remain unsettled, including the categorisation of allowances within the On-Site Award; payment times and arrangements within the Payment of Wages provisions; final drafting of the revised RDO clause and the form and function of the National Training wage Schedules.

Amendments that have been settled within the decision will not take effect immediately, but likely in December 2018.  The FWC has also foreshadowed that more time will be required to make additional submissions including on draft determinations.

Members seeking further information should contact the IR Department on (03) 9411 4560.