Professional Employees Award
Knowledge Base for Employers
Professional Employees Award Knowledge Base for Employers
Professional Employees Award 2020 Summary
In this article, we detail some of the key provisions in the Professional Employees Award 2020 including what sorts of businesses it covers, the different levels of employee classifications under the Award and guidance on employee entitlements.
Employment Innovations advises a large number of organisations in this sector and has produced this Professional Employees Award 2020 to help employers cut through the complexities of the award.
If you require any assistance in understanding your rights or obligations under the Award, please contact us.
Table of Contents
CLASSIFICATION & PAY POINT PROGRESSION
TYPES OF EMPLOYMENT
HOURS OF WORK AND RATES OF PAY
MINIMUM RATES OF PAY
PAYMENT OF WAGES
LEAVE AND LEAVE LOADING
NOTICE OF TERMINATION
RATES OF PAY
CLASSIFICATION & PAY POINT PROGRESSION
TYPES OF EMPLOYMENT
HOURS OF WORK AND RATES OF PAY
MINIMUM RATES OF PAY
PAYMENT OF WAGES
LEAVE AND LEAVE LOADING
NOTICE OF TERMINATION
RATES OF PAY
Confusingly, the Professional Employees Award 2020 does not cover all employees who you might think would be deemed to be “a professional”, rather, it covers a very narrow section of employees and employers, namely:
- Employers principally engaged in the information and technology industry, the quality auditing industry, or the telecommunications services industry (but only in respect of employees with degree-level IT qualifications, or equivalent experience).
- Employees performing professional engineering or professional scientific duties (regardless of the industry in which they perform their roles).
- Employers who are medical research institutes, principally engaged as medical research institutes, just with respect to their employees performing professional medical research duties.
It therefore follows, for example, that an IT professional employed outside of the IT industry (for example, in an HR business) will not be covered by the Award. It will only be where the IT professional is employed within the IT industry that the Professional Employees Award will apply.
Generally speaking, an employee will only be covered by the Award where they have a degree level qualification in the relevant field in which they operate, or have a high level of experience, which would entitle them to be a member of the relevant professional body that operates for their profession.
For example, a junior IT employee working in the IT industry who does not hold a relevant degree or have equivalent experience will not be covered by the award. They may instead be covered by another modern award, such as the Miscellaneous Award 2020 or the Clerks—Private Sector Award 2020; or they may even be award free.
Similarly, an employee working in the IT industry in a role which does not require a degree-level qualification (e.g. in marketing, sales, etc) would not be covered by the Award.
Further information on each of the different “streams” of the Award are detailed below.
Following a decision of the Fair Work Commission on 20 January 2023 it is proposed that the Award be amended to include a statement that it does not apply to an employee employed “wholly or principally in a managerial position”. A copy of the decision is available here. Please contact us for further information.
Information Technology and Telecommunications Services Streams
Information technology (IT) industry for the purposes of this Award means:
- the design and manufacture of computers and computer peripherals;
- the design and manufacture of telecommunications equipment;
- the design and manufacture of computer software;
- computer system installation, repair and maintenance;
- computer consultancy services;
- computer programming;
- system analysis services;
- the design, development and maintenance of online internet architecture and the facilitation of online content management; or|
- activities which are incidental, ancillary or complementary to the activities set out in this definition.
Telecommunications services industry for the purposes of this Award means:
- the supply and/or installation and/or maintenance of telecommunications services; or
- the supply and/or installation and/or maintenance of value added telecommunications services; or
- incidental, ancillary or complementary to the supply and/or installation and/or maintenance of telecommunications services; or
- the installation and/or maintenance of telecommunications equipment and line.
“Telecommunications services” in this context means a service for carrying communications by means of guided or unguided electromagnetic energy or both. Carrying includes transmitting, switching or receiving.
The Award provides for various different level qualifications based on the employee’s qualifications and experience. As noted above, an employee without a degree level qualification in IT (or equivalent experience) would not be covered by the Award.
Quality Auditing Stream
Quality auditing industry for the purposes of this Award means the industry in which the participants provide advisory, auditing and assessment services to companies which are pursuing quality improvement programs (in compliance with the International Standards Organisations quality standards).
The Award applies to quality auditors who have sufficient qualifications or experience as stipulated within the Award.
Engineering and Scientist Streams
The engineering and scientists streams cover degree qualified engineers or scientists, or those with a membership to a relevant professional body, or those who have sufficient experience or qualifications for admission to be a member of a professional body, such as Engineers Australia or Royal Australian Chemical Institute (see Award for specifics).
Medical Researcher Stream
This stream mainly covers not-for-profit organisations mainly involved in basic, applied, translational or clinical research operating for the primary purpose of the cure, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of disease.
It only covers employees with degree-level qualifications in this field, or with equivalent experience.
Classifications & Pay Point Progression
Employees have different classification levels within the Award, this is based on varying factors such as their duties, level of responsibility, qualifications and experience. An employee’s classification will stipulate the minimum rate they can be paid.
Classifications are broken into two parts, referred to in the Award as Schedule A & Schedule B. These cover the following:
- Schedule A – Covers all employees apart from those involved in medical research
- Schedule B – Covers those employees engaged in medical research
Employers must advise their employees in writing of their classification at the start of their employment and of any subsequent changes to their classification.
Pay Points & Progression
Both the Level 1 Graduate Professional (Schedule A) and Level 1 Graduate Professional Medical Research Employee (Schedule B) are divided into four pay points through which employees will progress before moving to a Level 2.
Progression is generally achieved by employees meeting the below listed criteria:
- Completing 12 months service within each pay point.
- Having been assessed as competent within an annual review, where the graduate possesses and may be required to utilise a level of professional knowledge as achieved via training and experience under the supervision of senior professional staff. Therefore, meeting the expectations of the role for a professional employee at this level and tenure within the profession.
- Accelerated advancement is possible prior to the annual anniversary date by the employer provided that the employee can demonstrate the competencies of the higher pay point.
An employer can defer or refuse advancement through the pay points, as long as this is not unreasonable or arbitrarily imposed. This decision must be confirmed in writing to the employee, and they are able to appeal a deferral.
We have provided further details on the different classification levels below.
Schedule A – (General Coverage: Engineer, Information Technology Employee & Qualified Scientist)
This level includes Graduate Engineers, Graduate IT Employees and Qualified Scientists – see definitions in clause 2 of the Award.
This applies to an employee in the first 4 years of experience since graduating whilst undertaking the duties listed below.
- Tasks undertaken at this level are of limited scope and complexity such as minor phases of broader assignments, in office, plant, field or laboratory work. Work is generally undertaken by assisting senior professionals (i.e. engineers, scientists or professional IT employees), by taking on tasks that draw from techniques, methods or knowledge learned during the completion of their undergraduate course. Work is subject to review by higher level professionals, and the employee will generally work under supervision as to method of approach and requirements.
- Training in development achieved within this classification will enable the employee to develop the skills and knowledge necessary to undertake more difficult tasks as required in Level 2.
- An employee at this level may also assign and check work of technical staff assigned to work on a common project.
This level consists of the following positions: (1) Experienced Engineer, Experienced IT Employee, and Experienced Scientist; and (2) Quality Auditor.
(1) Experienced Engineer, Experienced IT Employee and Experienced Scientist
- An employee will have achieved more than 4 years’ experience on delivering tasks as listed within Level 1).
- An employee at this level plans and conducts professional work without detailed supervision, but with general guidance on unusual features, and is predominantly engaged on more general assignments requiring substantial professional experience (as achieved by progressing through the Level 1 pay points).
(2) Level 2 – Quality Auditor
- An employee under this classification must have demonstrated ability to perform all or any part of a quality management system audit, solo or as a member of a team to ISO (10011 Part 2, AS 3911 Part 2,NZS 10011 Part 2).
This level consisted of the following positions: (1) Professional; and (2) Senior (Lead) Auditor.
Level 3 – Professional
- An employee at this level performs duties requiring the application of mature professional knowledge and makes responsible decisions on matters assigned including the establishment of professional standards and procedures. Work is carried out within broad guidelines requiring conformity with overall objectives, relative priorities and necessary cooperation with other units, although informed professional guidance may be available.
- With scope for individual accomplishment and coordination of more difficult assignments, the employee deals with problems for which it is necessary to modify established guides and devise new approaches. The employee may make some original contribution or application of new professional approaches and techniques to the design or development of equipment or products. They will also consult, recommend, and advise in specialty areas.
- The employee outlines and assigns work, reviews it for technical accuracy and adequacy, and may plan, direct, coordinate and supervise the work of other professional and technical staff.
Level 3 – Senior (Lead) Auditor
- An employee under this classification has demonstrated the ability to manage an audit team and coordinate all aspects of a complete quality management system audit to ISO 10011 Part 2, AS 3911 Part 2, NZS 10011 Part 2.
Level 4 – Professional
An employee at this level performs professional work involving:
- considerable independence in approach, demanding a considerable degree of originality, ingenuity, and judgement; and
- knowledge of more than one field of, or expertise (for example, acts as their organisation’s technical reference authority) in a particular field of professional engineering, professional scientific/information technology field or professional information technology field.
Characteristics of an employee at this level:
- initiates or participates in short- or long-range planning and makes independent decisions on professional engineering, professional scientific, or information technology policies and procedures within an overall program;
- gives technical advice to management and operating departments;
- may take detailed technical responsibility for product development and provision of specialised professional engineering or professional scientific/information technology systems, facilities and functions;
- coordinates work programs; and
- directs or advises on the use of equipment and materials.
An employee at this level makes responsible decisions not usually subject to technical review, decides courses of action necessary to expedite the successful accomplishment of assigned projects, and may make recommendations involving large sums or long-range objectives.
Duties are assigned only in terms of broad objectives, and are reviewed for policy, soundness of approach, accomplishment, and general effectiveness.
The employee will supervise a group or groups including professionals and other staff, or exercises authority and technical control over a group of professional staff. In both instances, the employee is engaged in complex professional engineering or professional scientific/information technology applications.
Schedule B – (Medical Research Employees)
Level 1 – Graduate Professional Medical Research Employee (first 4 years’ experience since graduating whilst undertaking the below listed duties)
- An employee at this level undertakes research duties of limited scope and complexity and contributes to the efforts of the research unit within the medical research field.
- Operates under supervision from higher level professional medical research employees.
- Performs normal duties and exercises individual judgement and initiative in the application of principles, techniques, and methods.
- This position relies on precedent or defined procedures for guidance and only makes decisions inside of this scope.
- Work is reviewed by higher level professional medical research employees. As the employee progresses with development and experience, work will then receive less review and the employee progressively exercises more individual judgement until level of competency at Level 2 is reached.
Level 2 – Experienced Professional Medical Research Employee (has achieved more than 4 years’ experience and can competently deliver on tasks as listed within Level 1 at all progression levels)
An employee at this level conducts professional research duties without detailed supervision, but with guidance provided by senior employees.
Further specific characteristics of an employee at this level:
- Contributes to research outputs
- Has a greater degree of autonomy and responsibility
- May support more junior staff with respect of methodology and procedure
- Is developing more advanced technical skills
- May present at conferences and seminars
- May provide input into the preparation of submissions to external funding bodies and other agencies.
- Undertakes administrative functions in relations to their area
Level 3 – Experienced Medical Research Employee
An employee at this level performs duties requiring the application of mature professional knowledge with scope for individual accomplishment and the oversight of research projects.
This employee should be either receiving or working toward obtaining independent research funding.
Further specific characteristic of an employee at this level:
- Contribute to the research direction of a research team
- May oversee a research team within a research group conforming with objectives and relative priorities
- Make independent, original contributions to their area of research
- Produce research that results in publications or influences health guidelines, policy, advancements
- Presents at conferences and seminars
- Prepares submissions for eternal funding bodies
- Supervises support staff and other technical staff by guiding the research efforts of junior professional employees.
Level 4 – Experienced Medical Research Employee
Employees at this level have made considerable original contributions to their area of research, and are acknowledged nationally in their area of expertise.
An employee at this level is expected to:
- Play a major role in the research direction of a research group
- Leading a research group or managing research projects
- Hold considerable record of independent, original contributions to an area of research
- Present at national and international conferences and seminars
- Play a role in the financial management of funding
- Supervise and advise other research staff
Level 5 – Experienced Medical Research Employee
Level 5 employees are expected to have achieved recognition as an authority nationally or internationally in their area of research and expertise. They will oversee a program of research and receive independent research and funding.
An employee at this level is expected to:
- Lead a research team or unit, including convincing programs and problems to be investigated and determining research strategy and direction.
- Make responsible decisions on all matters
- Hold a substantial respond of independent, original contributions to an area of research
National Employment Standards
The National Employment Standards (NES) contains minimum terms and conditions which apply to each employee, regardless of whether they are also covered by the Award.
The Award states that the employer must ensure that copies of the Award and the NES are available to all employees to whom they apply. A convenient place to do this is having links to the Award and the NES written within an employee’s employment contract.
Individual Flexibility Arrangements
An employer and an individual employee may agree to vary the application of the terms of the Award relating to any of the following in order to meet the genuine needs of both the employee and the employer:
- arrangements for when work is performed;
- overtime rates;
- penalty rates;
- annual leave loading.
This agreement can only be made without coercion or duress, after the individual has commenced employment with the employer. It must result in the employee being better off overall at the time the agreement is made.
If an employer wishes to initiate an agreement they must give the employee a written proposal and take reasonable steps (including providing a translation to an appropriate language) to ensure that the employee understands the proposed agreement.
An agreement must be in writing setting out the name of the employee and employer, signed by both the employer and employee (if the employee is under 18, then their parent or legal guardian) with a record of the agreement provided to the employee and kept by the employer which:
- states the names of the employer and the employee; and
- identifies the award term, or award terms, the application of which is to be varied; and
- sets out how the application of the award term, or each award term, is varied; and
- sets out how the agreement results in the employee being better off overall at the time the agreement is made than if the agreement had not been made; and
- states the date the agreement is to start.
An agreement may be terminated at any time by written agreement between the employer and employee, after a notice period of 13 weeks.
Requests for Flexible Working Arrangements
Employee may request change in working arrangements
An employee can request for a change in working arrangements under section 65 of the Fair Work Act.
This section of the Fair Work Act provides for certain employees to request a change in their working arrangements because of their circumstances. An employer may only refuse such a request for a change in working arrangements on ‘reasonable business grounds’, as detailed below.
Responding to the request
Before responding to a flexible working arrangement request, the employer must discuss the request with the employee and genuinely try to reach agreement on a change in working arrangements that will reasonably accommodate the employee’s circumstances having regard to:
- a) the needs of the employee arising from their circumstances;
- the consequences for the employee if changes in working arrangements are not made; and
- any reasonable business grounds for refusing the request.
The employer must give the employee a written response to an employee’s request within 21 days, stating whether the employer grants or refuses the request.
If the employer refuses the request, then the written response must include details of the reasons for the refusal.
If the employer refuses the request, the written response must:
- Include details of the reasons for the refusal, including the business ground or grounds for the refusal and how the ground or grounds apply.
- State whether or not there are any changes in working arrangements that the employer can offer the employee so as to better accommodate the employee’s circumstances; and
- If the employer can offer the employee such changes in working arrangements, set out those changes in working arrangements.
Any disputes that may arise with regard to this matter should be dealt with following the Consultation and Dispute Resolution section of the Award.
Types of Employment
Employees under this Award must be classified into one of these three categories:
- Full Time
- Part Time
It is a requirement that employees covered by this Award are advised in writing by their employer of the employment type applicable to their engagement.
Employment under the Award for all purposes is full-time unless the employee is specifically otherwise engaged on a part-time or casual basis.
A part-time employee may be engaged for a specified number of ordinary hours each week being less than an average of 38 hours per week.
A casual employee does not have guaranteed hours of work and usually works an irregular pattern. They are paid an additional 25% loading on top of the permanent base rate of pay as compensation for annual leave and personal/carer’s leave entitlements, notice of termination, redundancy benefits and other entitlements of full or part-time employees.
The minimum engagement for casual employees is 2 hours of consecutive work when they are required to attend work.
Offers and requests for conversion from casual employment to full-time or part-time employment are provided for in the National Employment Standards. Certain casual employees must be offered conversion to permanent employment after 12 months of service, see our guidance here.
Hours of Work and Rates of Pay
Ordinary hours of work under the Award are 38 hours per week.
Ordinary hours of work should not exceed an average of 38 hours per week over the regular cycle, the Award does not specify the maximum period over which hours can be averaged.
The Award says employees should be compensated for:
- Time worked in excess of ordinary hours;
- Time worked on-call-backs;
- Time spent standing by in readiness for a call-back;
- Time spent carrying out professional engineering duties or professional scientific/IT duties outside of the ordinary hours over the telephone or via remote access arrangements; or
- Time worked on afternoon, night or weekend shifts.
Compensation for such work performed (as listed above) is not explicitly provided for within the award (i.e. penalty rates or time in lieu), however it is to instead be determined by the Employer, which may include:
- granting special additional leave;
- granting special additional remuneration;
- an annual salary set sufficiently high to take account of ordinary hours plus all additional time worked;
- granting a special allowance or loading.
Therefore, it would be unlikely to be possible to simply pay employees the minimum hourly rates set by the Award for every hour worked in circumstances; rather a higher level of payment / salary (or some other extra benefits) should be provided.
Remuneration must be reviewed annually to ensure that it has been appropriately determined.
Following a decision of the Fair Work Commission on 20 January 2023 it is proposed that the Award will be amended so that:
- Ordinary hours of work are 38 per week (not an average of 38 hours per week).
- Employees must be paid their ordinary hourly rate for working in excess of 38 hours per week or provided with time off in lieu.
- A penalty rate of 125% shall be payable for all hours worked (whether ordinary or overtime hours) before 6.00 am or after 10.00 pm on any day Monday to Saturday. For casual employees, this is in addition to their casual loading.
- A penalty rate of 150% shall be payable for rostered hours (whether ordinary or overtime hours) worked on a Sunday or public holiday. Again, for casual employees, this is in addition to their casual loading.
- The employer must keep records of all hours worked by an employee in excess of 38 per week, or worked before 6.00 am or after 10.00 pm on any day Monday to Saturday, or worked at any time on a Sunday or public holiday.
- These obligations (to pay for additional hours over 38 a week, to pay penalty rates, to record hours worked, etc.) will not apply to employees who have a contractual entitlement to an annual salary that is 25% or more in excess of the minimum annual wage set out in clause 14.
A copy of the Fair Work Commission’s decision can be read here. Please contact us for more information.
Minimum Rates of Pay
The minimum rates of pay for each level in the Award is set out in clause 14. These generally increase on 1 July each year, and a copy of the relevant pay guide can be found here.
Payment of Wages
The Award does not outline specific requirements regarding pay frequency and pay periods.
This means an employer may agree with the employee as to the frequency of their pay, however, this must be in compliance with sect. 323 of the Fair Work Act 2009, which sets out that employees must be paid in full at least monthly.
Payment on termination of employment
The employer must pay an employee no later than 7 days after the day on which the employee’s employment terminates:
- the employee’s wages under this award for any complete or incomplete pay period up to the end of the day of termination; and
- all other amounts that are due to the employee under this award and the NES.
Relevant allowances are outlined within clause 16 of the Award. Please note that the amount payable for allowances is regularly updated. Please refer to the Fair Work Ombudsman pay guide for the current rates.
|Travelling expenses and travelling time||An employee must be reimbursed all reasonable expenses (including accommodation, meals and out-of-pocket expenses directly related to their employment) incurred while travelling on their employer’s business. Reasonable compensation for excess travel time will be agreed upon.|
|Travelling expenses and travelling time||
The employer must pay an employee required to use their private vehicle on the employer’s business the rate payable per KM traveled (please refer to FWO pay guide)
The use of the employee’s private vehicle for employment purposes is by mutual agreement between the employee and employer.
|Equipment and Special Clothing||Except where an employee elects to provide equipment and special clothing, the employer must provide free of cost, all such equipment and special clothing reasonably required for the adequate discharge of duties. The equipment or clothing will remain the property of the employer.|
An employer must make such superannuation contributions in compliance with relevant legislation to a superannuation fund for the benefit of an employee. Employees generally can choose their own superannuation fund, however, if an employee does not choose a superannuation fund, any of the following may be selected:
- Statewide Superannuation Trust;
- any superannuation fund to which the employer was making superannuation contributions for the benefit of its employees before 12 September 2008,provided the superannuation fund is an eligible choice fund and is a fund that offers a MySuper product or is an exempt public sector superannuation scheme; or
- a superannuation fund or scheme which the employee is a defined benefit member of.
Leave and Leave Loading
Employees are entitled to annual leave in accordance with the NES. For full-time and part-time employees this includes four weeks annual leave per year (pro rata for part-time employees).
Employees who perform their ordinary hours on any day of the week and are regularly rostered to work on Sundays and Public Holidays are entitled to an additional week of annual leave..
Annual leave loading
The Award contains confusing and unclear provisions regarding annual leave loading. The Award states as follows in clause 18.2:
18.2 An employee must be paid a loading calculated at the rate of 17.5% of their base rate of pay, provided that:
- the entitlement must not exceed the ABS average weekly earnings for all males (Australia) for the September quarter of the year preceding the year in which the date of the accrual of the annual leave falls; and
- where an employee receives remuneration from their employer which is related to their annual leave loading and which is established as being of equivalent value to or greater value than the loading provided by clause 18.2, no further entitlement will accrue. Where the benefit is of a lesser value than equivalent value then the employer must make up the benefit to that value.
The clause appears to operate so that an employee must be paid a 17.5% loading on top of their usual base rate of pay when they take annual leave, subject to there being a cap on the maximum amount of loading to be paid (referred to in clause 18.2(a)).
It is not clear whether the cap operates so the amount of loading is capped at “the ABS average weekly earnings for all males (Australia) for the September quarter of the year preceding the year in which the date of the accrual of the annual leave falls” or if it is the base rate plus the loading that is capped at “the ABS average weekly earnings for all males (Australia) for the September quarter of the year preceding the year in which the date of the accrual of the annual leave falls”.
Furthermore, the ABS no longer publishes these figures for the September quarter.
In our view, the safest approach would therefore be to pay a full 17.5% loading on the employee’s base rate of pay whenever an employee takes annual leave. For example, if they are paid an annual salary of $100,000, this would equate to a weekly salary of $1,923. If they took a week of annual leave, you should pay them $1,923 plus 17.5% leave loading (i.e. $336.52) on top of this.
Clause 18.2(b) appears to suggest – although again it is unclear – that payment for annual leave loading could be made in another way (e.g. included in an annual salary) but only where the remuneration is “related to their annual leave loading”. We would therefore suggest that if you wish to include the loading in salary that an employee’s contract of employment specifically refers to the amount of annual leave loading included in their salary (which must be at least 17.5% of their base remuneration). In other words you say “Your annual salary is $100,000 plus $17,500 annual leave loading”.
Another alternative would be to enter into an Individual Flexibility Arrangement (IFA) to alter the operation of this clause (e.g. pay an all-inclusive annual salary, so long as the employee was better off overall).
Given the uncertainty of the clause, we suggest that professional advice is sought. Please contact us for further assistance.
Annual leave in advance
The award provides for employees and their employer agreeing in writing for an employee to take a period of paid annual leave prior to having accrued the entitlement. The agreement needs to include:
- The amount of leave to be taken in advance and the date on which the leave will commence
- Be signed by both parties
A copy of the agreement must be kept on the employee record.
The award permits the ability for an employer to deduct from any money due to the employee on termination, an amount equivalent to the annual leave entitlement to which the employee has not yet accrued for having taken this in advance.
An employer can close down a section or more of the enterprise for the purpose of allowing annual leave to all or the majority of employees (e.g. for a Christmas Closure).
Where other conditions (such as different modern award provisions) apply to other employees of the business, these conditions will also apply to employees covered under the professional employees award. For example, where another modern award in the business provides for 4 weeks written notice to employees for a closure period, this is also taken to apply to these employees.
Cashing-out annual leave
Employees are permitted to cash out annual leave if:
- There is a separate written agreement between the employee and employer;
- The agreement does not result in the employee’s remaining accrued entitlement to paid annual leave being less than 4 weeks; and
- The maximum amount of accrued annual leave being cashed out in any period of 12 months is 2 weeks.
Excessive annual leave accruals
The Award states that an employee can be required to take annual leave where they have “excessive leave” accrued. The award defines this to mean more than 8 weeks paid annual leave. If an employee has excessive leave accrual, the employer and employee must confer with each other to genuinely reach an agreement on how to reduce or eliminate the excessive leave accrual.
If after genuinely trying to reach an agreement, the employee refuses to take paid annual leave, the employer can direct the employee in writing to take period/s of annual leave. However, strict rules apply under the Professional Employees Award, including:
- the employee cannot be required to take leave if their leave balance would be less than 6 annual leave weeks;
- the employer cannot require to employees to take a period of annual leave of less than one week; and
- the employer must not require the employee to take a period of paid annual leave beginning less than 8 weeks, or more than 12 months after the direction is given.
Personal/Carer’s Leave is provided for in the NES. This entitlement includes;
- 10 days paid leave for full-time employees; and
- Pro-rata for part-time employees.
Other leave entitlements
The following other types of leave are also provided for by the NES, including;
- Compassionate leave;
- Parental leave and related entitlements;
- Community service leave; and
- Family and domestic violence leave.
The Professional Employees Award states that public holiday entitlements are available as outlined in the NES. This provides that an employee is entitled to be absent from work on a day that is a public holiday, and can only be required to work where the requirement is reasonable.
An employee and employer may agree to substitute a public holiday for another day.
Notice of Termination
The Award provides that both employer and employee must provide a minimum period of one month notice of termination.
In the case of the employer, if the employee is over 45 years old and has completed more than 5 years of continuous service, this notice period is a minimum of 5 weeks.
These provisions apply instead of the minimum notice periods as outlined within the NES. This notice period is applicable from the commencement of employment, including within any relevant probation period the employee may be subject to contractually.
Deductions for insufficient notice
If the employee is over 18 years old and fails to provide the required period of notice, an employer may deduct up to one week’s wages from an employee’s pay, provided that any such deduction isn’t unreasonable in the circumstances. The employer is only able to deduct pay from wages owed, they cannot deduct from the employee’s entitlements e.g. accumulated leave.
Job search entitlement
Where an employer has given notice of termination to an employee, the employee must be allowed time off without loss of pay of up to one day for the purpose of seeking other employment.
Redundancy pay is provided for in the NES i.e. where the employer has 15 or more employees, permanent employees are entitled to the following amount of redundancy pay:
|Period of continuous service||
|At least 1 year but less than 2 years||4 weeks|
|At least 2 years but less than 3 years||6 weeks|
|At least 3 years but less than 4 years||7 weeks|
|At least 4 years but less than 5 years||8 weeks|
|At least 5 years but less than 6 years||10 weeks|
|At least 6 years but less than 7 years||11 weeks|
|At least 7 years but less than 8 years||13 weeks|
|At least 8 years but less than 9 years||14 weeks|
|At least 9 years but less than 10 years||16 weeks|
|At least 10 years||12 weeks|
Rates of Pay
As at 1 July 2023; please note the rates below are the minimum ordinary rates of pay as outlined within the Award. Please refer to the relevant Fair Work Ombudsman pay guide for other applicable rates such as overtime, penalty rates or allowances.
|Classification||Full-Time / Part-Time Hourly pay rate||Casual Hourly pay rate|
|Graduate professional – level 1.1 – 3 year degree||$28.34||$35.43|
|Graduate professional – level 1.1 – 4 or 5 year degree||$29.07||$36.34|
|Graduate professional – level 1.2||$29.55||$36.94|
|Graduate professional – level 1.3||$30.78||$38.48|
|Graduate professional – level 1.4||$32.34||$40.43|
|Experienced professional/quality auditor – level 2||$33.43||$41.79|
|Professional/senior (lead) quality auditor – level 3||$36.54||$45.68|
|Professional – level 4||$41.21||$51.51|
|Graduate professional medical research employee – level 1 – pay point 1.1 (3 year degree)||$28.34||$35.43|
|Graduate professional medical research employee – level 1 – pay point 1.1 (4 or 5 year degree)||$29.07||$36.34|
|Graduate professional medical research employee – level 1 – pay point 1.2||$29.55||$36.94|
|Graduate professional medical research employee – level 1 – pay point 1.3||$30.78||$38.48|
|Graduate professional medical research employee – level 1 – pay point 1.4||$32.34||$40.43|
|Experienced professional medical research employee – level 2||$33.43||$41.79|
|Experienced medical research employee – level 3||$36.54||$45.68|
|Experienced medical research employee – level 4||$41.21||$51.51|
|Experienced medical research employee – level 5||$49.65||$62.06|
How Employment Innovations can help
If you require assistance with dealing with disciplinary issues concerning staff, Employment Innovations can help. Our HR Advisors will be able to guide you through each step of the disciplinary process and we have template documents (e.g. direction to attend a disciplinary meeting, written warning, letter of termination, etc) available as part of our subscription packages.
About Employment Innovations
Employment Innovations is one of Australia’s leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, payroll solutions, migration, human resource management and HR software.
The information provided in these knowledge base articles is general in nature and is not intended to substitute for professional advice. If you are unsure about how this information applies to your specific situation we recommend you contact Employment Innovations for advice.
This knowledge base article will change over time, as Modern Award legislation relating to this Industry or Occupation is passed by the Fair Work Commission. Originally published on 21 January 2021 and last updated on 22 March 2022.
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