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Construction Award Changes: What you need to know


Changes to key construction Modern Awards made by the Fair Work Commission as part of its Modern Award Review case are now in operation.  Both the On-Site Award and Joinery Award have been varied and the changes will apply from the start of the first full pay period that starts on or after today.

Master Builders has been heavily involved in the Review since it started in 2014, appearing before the Commission almost 50 times (including two weeks of Full Bench hearings) and filing just over 100 written submissions. During this time, Master Builders has managed to fend-off a raft of claims made by six unions, while arguing for changes that make Modern Awards simpler, clearer and better for members.

While the review is not yet finished, most of the key issues have been settled and are now in operation. Despite the painstaking process, the overall result has been positive with the Awards being improved in several important areas as direct result of Master Builders tireless advocacy.

Here is what you need to know:

When do the changes come into effect?

The changes apply from the start of the first full pay period that starts on or after 1 July 2020 and it is strongly recommended that Award users review their workplace arrangements to ensure they remain compliant with Award conditions.

What are the key changes to the On-Site Award?

  • Over 60 allowances and special rates have been removed from the Award and/or consolidated into a new industry allowance – being 6% for general building and construction, civil and metal engineering – 4.8% for residential construction (clause 21.1).
  • RDO arrangements have been simplified with expanded options as to how these are set and when they may be taken (clause 33).
  • A formal ‘time off instead of overtime’ or TOIL system has been introduced (clause 36.17).
  • A gap in the shift-work clause has been fixed by the creation of a new “early morning shift” (clause 34.1) attracting a loading of 50% (consistent with existing loadings).
  • Living away from home – distant work arrangements – have been simplified (clause 25.4).
  • Adjustments have been made to the Fares and travel pattern allowance provisions (clause 25.1).
  • Clauses used to set rates for forepersons and supervisors in the metal and engineering construction sector have been simplified (clause 43.2).
  • Annual leave loading provisions have been simplified (clause 38.2).
  • Soil and concrete and aggregate testing employees are no longer covered by the On-Site Award (clause 4.10).

What are the key changes to the Joinery Award?

  • Updating the transfers, travelling and working away from the usual place of work provision (clause 24.5)
  • Introducing time off instead of overtime (clause 30.9)
  • Employers and a majority of their employees (instead of 60% of employees) can now agree on changing ordinary hours of work and rostering, breaks and overtime (clause 31.1).

Are these changes related to the JobKeeper scheme in any way? Are they temporary?

No. These changes are unrelated to JobKeeper and will operate on an ongoing basis.

What about the MBA case to create more flexibility in construction Awards in light of COVID?

These changes are unrelated to that case, which has been set to start in a few weeks.

Is the 4 Yearly process now finalised?

Regrettably, no.  There are some minor issues involving the training wages and payment arrangements which have yet to be resolved but should be decided before the end of the year.

Where do I get more information?

For further information contact your local Master Builders Association in your State or Territory and they will able to assist. Click here to find them

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