Call for streamlined awards

Small business owners have called for modern award documents to be shorter, simpler and use more examples and less jargon.

A report released by the Fair Work Commission questioning 47 small business owners about the usage and usability of modern awards found many worried about not understanding the system and as a result, paid staff above award pay rates as a form of insurance.

Similarly, some business owners have changed their employment practices by choosing not to hire or to use contractors to avoid dealing with the awards.

The lack of clarity around the awards has resulted in many small business owners feeling disempowered, with the existing layout of modern awards eliciting negative sentiment and considered daunting by others.

Many said the documents were difficult to use, complex and challenging, but in line with their low expectations of a government, regulatory policy document.

This did not align with the participants’ priority focus, which was to maintain business profitability at a time of constant challenge and change.

To combat this, the participants called for certainty, efficiency, ease and support around modern awards, with a number of stand-out improvements recommended. 

These included:

  • Reduced length
  • Clearer table of contents, i.e. with the amendment listing removed
  • Increased use of tables
  • Inclusion of examples
  • Simpler language
  • A reduced need for interpretation and calculations (of wages)

 A full copy of the report can be found here.