As an employer, you will often have a number of obligations to think about. This could include your obligations to customers, suppliers or other stakeholders. So, what about your obligations to employees?

Luckily, Australian Employment Law has this sorted. Most industries will be covered by a certain award which sets out employer obligations and employee entitlements. It’s vital that you provide your employees with the right entitlements which are often set out in the award they are under. 

Your first step here is to check which award applies to them, and then ensure your internal policies and the Employment Contract they have with you is consistent with these rules. 

This way, you can ensure you’re not in breach of any Employment Laws. 

There are multiple types of awards – for example, for anyone working in the legal industry, there may be obligations that apply to them which are set out in the Legal Services Award.

 In this article, we’ll cover the basics of the Professional Employees Award. 

What Is The Professional Employees Award?

The Professional Employees Award is a set of guidelines that applies to employees working in the following industries:

  • Information technology
  • Medical research
  • Telecommunication services
  • Quality auditing

It does not apply to all people employed within these industries, but rather, those who meet the criteria. 

For example, to be covered by the award, you will need to have certain qualifications, not be entitled to another award and work in a sector that is approved by the awards requirements. 

It varies based on the industry, so we’ve summarised some of the key points for you. To view the requirements in more depth, visit the Fair Work website. 

Who Is Covered By The Professional Employees Award?

Just like any other award, there is a limit to who it actually applies to. It’s important to read through your award to determine whether your working arrangements are subject to the entitlements they set out. 

Information Technology (IT)

To be considered a part of the IT industry, a individual’s job will need to involve: 

  • Designing computers software and equipment
  • Conducting reparations and instalments
  • Programming and system analytics 
  • Consultancy 
  • Design, development and maintenance. 

If your field relates to any of the above, then an employee will likely be considered eligible for the professional employees award. 

Medical Research

The medical research industry is also covered by the award. For employment to qualify as medical research, it will need to meet the following criteria:

  • Be Not-For-Profit in nature
  • The research must be applied, basic, clinical or translational 
  • The main purpose of the research should be to understand diseases in order to treat or cure them 

Quality Auditing

The quality auditing industry looks to improve the work of various organisations. In order for an auditors role to be covered by the award, they must: 

  • Provide an assessment of a companies functions
  • Give advice regarding how they can comply or further comply with the relevant standards 

Telecommunications Service

A telecommunications service will often involve:

  • Conducting the supply, maintenance and installation of telecommunications materials 
  • Working on telecommunications lines
  • Supplying the above related services 

Who The Professional Employees Award Doesn’t Cover

If an individual does not possess the relevant formal educational qualifications related to their field, the award will not apply to them. 

Additionally, if they are covered by other awards such as the rail award, airport award or the electrical power award, they cannot be eligible for another award. 

Furthermore, if an employee’s duties are limited to clerical or administrative work, it is likely they will not receive the benefits of the award. 

Professional Employee Award Pay Guide

What Does Fair Work Say About The Professional Employees Award?

The National Employment Standards (NES) dictate that workers belonging to particular fields will be entitled to certain awards. These standards ensure that employees are being paid fairly and receiving treatment that is on par with the national standard. 

Just like any other award, the Professional Employees Award sets out rules around how payment will work for employees in these industries. This will depend on what level you are on. 

It also sets out entitlements with respect to reimbursements for travel expenses. 

Why Should I Check The Award My Employee Is Under?

When it comes to meeting your obligations as an employer, your employees’ awards are one of the first things you should be looking at. It will cover key standards around payment, hours of work, leave entitlements and other important matters. 

If something isn’t right in the workplace (for example, an employee isn’t getting paid what they are entitled to), they can take legal action against you and rely on their relevant award. 

You want to make sure you understand the ins and outs of the award that applies to your employees so that you remain compliant with Fair Work’s requirements. 

How Can I Ensure My Employees Receive Their Entitlements?

At Sprintlaw, we offer a Modern Award Compliance package that will assess the relevant awards for your area of employment. Additionally, our expert lawyers can review your Employment Contracts to ensure that your policies and practices are consistent with the requirements in the relevant award. 

Example
Harper runs a business where she makes custom computers for her clients. Her customer base is broad. It ranges from serious gamers to those in IT including programmers/software developers.
 
They generally need specifications requiring larger memory, space and speed that is not easily available on the market.  In order to keep up with the demands of her clients, Harper hires Elijah, a recent graduate who is qualified to make the kind of devices Harper requires. Harper is aware of her duties and Elijah’s Professional Employee Award.

With this in mind, she begins to draw up/ get legal assistance with drafting Elijah’s employment contract with his input. 

According to the award: 
– Elijah will work an ordinary 38 hour work week 
– He will be compensated for any overtime, work trips and times he is on stand-by ready to come in
– Due to the length of his 5 year degree and his status as a recent graduate, Elijah is entitled to an annual salary of $55,085.
– Aware of Elijah’s value and multiple job offers, Harper offers him a $60K starting salary 
– Harper will also contribute to Elijah’s superannuation fund
– Elijah will also be entitled to annual leave  

Need Help? 

Employment law can be difficult to wrap your head around, which is why we have specialist lawyers that know the area well. It’s crucial to make sure your Employment Contracts and workplace policies are compliant with the law to avoid future legal troubles. 

If you have any questions around employment law or are unsure about your obligations under a certain award, we have a team of friendly legal consultants who are happy to provide a free, no-obligations chat. This way, you can rest assured that your business is compliant with the relevant employment laws. 

If you would like a consultation on your options going forward, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a consultation and a free quote. 

About Sprintlaw

Sprintlaw is a new type of law firm that operates completely online and on a fixed-fee basis. We’re on a mission to make quality legal services faster, simpler and more affordable for small business owners and entrepreneurs.

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