2020 Industrial Relations Overview

8 December 2020

As the year draws to a close, we provide a 2020 summary of the changes made to the Architects Award and other awards relevant to architectural practice.

The ACA continues to represent architectural employers on industrial relations matters, to keep members informed about changes that impact them, and to support architects to be fair and ethical employers.

Thanks to the Industrial Relations SubCommittee, in particular David Wagner, and new industrial relations advisor Tom Earls from Fair Work Lawyers.

Architects Award

Architects Award Update 2020

The new Architects Award 2020 document came into effect on 4 May 2020, with the following notable changes to six awards.

• A new classification was added, which was titled Bachelor’s Degree with a pathway to a Master of Architecture.
• The words full time were removed from the definition of Student of Architecture, as students may now be enrolled part time.
• A change to the competencies, with a modernised approach in line with the National Standard of Competency for Architects
• Student of Architecture rates now apply up to the third year of experience (rather than up to the sixth year)
• A new pay scale for the new classification of Bachelor’s Degree with a pathway to a Master of Architecture.
• The clause for equipment and special clothing modernised to reflect changes in technology.

Pathway to Masters implications

The Architects Award inclusion of a pay rate for the new classification of the Bachelor’s Degree with a Pathway to a Master of Architecture had implications that required further unpacking. The minimum pay rates of the Architects Award 2020 now provide continual coverage from the first year of being enrolled in a Bachelor’s degree that leads to a Master’s degree in architecture, to being a junior registered Architect. For further explanation, see the relevant article.

Temporary Award Changes Due to COVID-19

Unpaid Pandemic Leave & Annual Leave at Half Pay

On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission added the temporary Schedule X to a number of awards including the Architects Award, Clerks Private Sector Award, Graphic Arts Printing and Publishing Award, Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award, and the Miscellaneous Award.

Schedule X gives employees two weeks of unpaid pandemic leave and the ability to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay if their employer agrees.

Schedule X no long applies to the Clerks Award, but the inclusion of Schedule X has been extended to 29 March 2021 for the following awards: Architects Award, Graphic Arts Award, Manufacturing Award and Miscellaneous Award, among many others.

Clerks Award – Flexibility due to COVID-19 outbreak

The Fair Work Commission made several determinations throughout the year to temporarily amend the Clerks Award. The temporary Schedule I was added to enable more flexibility around duties, minimum hours, hours of work and annual leave/leave without pay.

The most recent determination amended Schedule I in the Clerks Award and extended it to 29 March 2021.

Other Awards related to Architectural Practice

Clerks Award – Annualised Salaries

A Fair Work Commission decision about annualised wage arrangements (also known as annual salaries) affected a range of awards; the one most relevant to architectural practices is the Clerks Award. Changes came into effect from the first full pay period on or after 1 March 2020.

The key changes insert more detail into clause 17 Annualised Salaries. These support the existing requirement that employees on annual salaries are not worse off than they would be under the Clerks Award and the National Employment Standards. The additions require further documentation and regular checks to ensure that this obligation is met. For more information, see our update.

Payment of Wages on Termination

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) varied the payment of wages on termination clause in the Graphic Arts Award and the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award as part of its Modern Award Review.

From the first full pay period on or after 9 September 2020, employers need to pay an employee’s final wages by the end of the next business day after the employment ends, and NES entitlements (such as annual leave) within seven days of the employment ending.

Pay Rates 2020

The Fair Work Commission increased the national minimum wage and base rates of pay in modern awards by 1.75%. There was a staged rollout of increases, with those relevant to the Architects Award coming into effect on 1 November 2020. For more information, see our updated pay rates for all relevant awards.