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Know what’s required when it comes to industrial relations

Before the modern award system was introduced on January 1, 2010, there were state and federal awards.

Farmers in South Australia were bound by either the Pastoral Industry (South Australia) Award or, if they were members of the South Australian Farmers’ Federation Industrial Association, the (Federal) Pastoral Industry Award 1998.

Both awards were different – the state award had more general sick leave provisions and the Federal Award included long service leave in the casual loading.

However, the modern award, in place since 2010, is the Pastoral Award (MA 000035) which has merged both the state and federal awards and the Pig Breeding (AWU) Award 1998.

This new award applies to employers throughout Australia in the pastoral industry and their employees. The pastoral industry means all employers and employees who are engaged in or in connection with:

• Management, breeding, rearing or grazing of livestock or poultry.

• Shearing and crutching of sheep and the classing and pressing of wool on farms.

• Dairying.

• Hatchery work.

• Sowing, raising or harvesting of broadacre field crops and other crops grown as part of a broadacre mixed farming enterprise;

• Treatment of land for any of these purposes.

• Clearing, fencing, well sinking, dam sinking or trenching on such farms or properties.

The award covers all farms which engage shearers, crutchers, wool classers, broadacre farming, pig breeding, poultry, dairyfarming and feedlots. Modern awards cover a whole industry or occupation and only provide a safety net of minimum pay rates and employment conditions.

The awards are supplemented with the National Employment Standards, which include 10 minimum standards of employment. Each standard is covered in detail in separate fact sheets (at www.fairwork.gov.au), but in summary, the standards involve the following minimum entitlements:

• Maximum weekly hours of work – 38 hours per week, plus reasonable additionally hours.

• Requests for flexible working arrangements – an entitlement that allows employees in certain circumstances outlined in the Fair Work Act 2009 to request a change in their working arrangements due to those circumstances.

• Parental leave and related entitlements – up to 12 months unpaid leave per employee, plus a right to request an additional 12 months’ unpaid leave, plus other forms of maternity, paternity and adoption related leave.

• Annual leave – four weeks of paid leave per year, plus an additional week for certain shift workers.

• Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave – 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave, two days unpaid carer’s leave as required, and two days compassionate leave (unpaid for casuals) as required.

• Community service leave – unpaid leave for voluntary emergency activities and leave for jury service, with an entitlement to be paid for up to 10 days for jury service.

• Long service leave – a transitional entitlement for employees as outlined in an applicable pre-modernised award, pending the development of a uniform national long service leave standard.

• Public holidays – a paid day off on a public holiday, except where reasonably requested to work.

• Notice of termination and redundancy pay – up to five weeks notice of termination and up to 16 weeks severance pay on redundancy, both based on length of service.

• Provision of a Fair Work Information Statement – the statement must be provided by employers to all new employees, and contains information about the National

Employment Standards, modern awards, agreement-making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, union rights of entry, transfer of business, and the respective roles of the Fair Work Commission and the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Enterprise agreements can be tailored to meet the needs of particular enterprises.

Enterprise agreements are collective agreements made at an enterprise level between employers and employees about terms and conditions of employment. An agreement must provide for an employee to be better off overall when conditions in the agreement are compared to the relevant award.

Individual Flexibility Arrangement Agreement can be entered into as per the provisions of Clause 7 of the Award and can be entered into as long as the IFA meets the Better Off Overall Test (“BOOT”) with individual employee(s).

The Fair Work Commission reviews all modern awards every four years and it is currently conducting the first review of the modern awards.

*Chas Cini is the principal of Mediation and Employment Relations Services. Livestock SA has partnered with MERS to provide industrial relations services for Livestock SA members. MERS offers members the first 30 minutes free, followed by a discounted rate for advice on employment contracts and the Pastoral Award, WorkCoverSA, termination of employment such as unfair dismissal and unlawful termination, workplace discrimination or bullying and harassment.

Details: The Pastoral Award and regular updates on industrial relations are available at www.livestocksa.org.au/pages/pastoral-award-update.php

1 September 2015 Media Type: Column / Industry Dev: Industrial Relations /