Fair Work Commission rule change includes some radio industry awards

A new award condition came into force on 1st March that could affect you if you employ staff under the 2010 Broadcasting and Recorded Entertainment Award or the Clerks Award, or if you work under that award.

Employers may need to keep a record of start, finish and unpaid break times for their employees under the new requirements, and have them sign these off each pay cycle, as part of written documentation around how annualised wage arrangements are managed.

For some awards this will be compulsory in the wake of underpayment scandals in the retail and food industry sectors, but for broadcasters compliance will be by agreement between the employer and employee.

In the radio industry, where anyone who works on air, in editorial production or news is ‘alway on’ looking for stories and content ideas, it is unlikely this new award condition will be very practical, but employers will still have to do something about it. In most cases people who work in radio enjoy the benefits of doing something they love, going to gigs or attending functions outside hours, so most will no doubt be relaxed about how their employer chooses to implement the compliance requirements.

The award variations do not affect sales staff covered by the Commercial Sales Award 2010 or non-award staff.

While employers in many industry sectors are concerned this is likely to burden them with extra paperwork, the Fair Work Commission says the changes are a broader strategy to close loopholes and ensure Australian businesses are paying employees their full legal entitlements.

“The annualised salary changes mean business owners have a legal obligation to change the way they pay employees affected, in-line with recording hours diligently; and upon termination, running annual reports to ensure any underpayments are identified in comparison with the employee’s Modern Award entitlements, while reconciling any shortfalls immediately,” says the Fair Work Commission.

The new obligations also require employers to perform a ‘reconciliation’ every 12 months, which involves calculating how much the worker would have been paid if they were paid on an hourly basis according to the award. Any shortfall has to be paid within 14 days. This reconciliation will also be performed when employment is terminated.

Commercial Radio Australia wrote to members last year with advice on how to manage the changes and offered support to any members requiring assistance.
Chief executive officer Joan Warner has told radioinfo the requirements “have the potential to add administrative burden, but broadcasters can continue to pay the affected categories of employee under a contractual annualised salary arrangement that includes a set off/absorption clause.”
CRA has recommended that broadcasters review and put in place risk governance measures to ensure they comply with the relevant Award provisions.


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