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Admin to warehouse staff – Do you know their rights?

January 13, 2016

Article by Workplace Advisor – F.Dunstone

In this article, National Retail Association’s Workplace Advisor, Felicity Dunstone, debunks some common misconceptions and highlights a few tricky entitlements in the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 [MA000002] (Clerks Award) and the Storage Services and Wholesale Award 2010 [MA000084] (Storage Services Award).


Myth 1: Employees doing administrative work must be covered by the Clerks Award
The Clerks Award covers employers with employees engaged wholly or principally in clerical work, but does not cover an employer bound by a modern Award that contains clerical classifications or an employee otherwise excluded from award coverage.

Frequently, employees in retail establishments may do clerical work in an office attached to a retail store and in that case the General Retail Industry Award 2010 [MA000004] (Retail Award) may provide coverage for a Clerical Officer where their work is so connected to the retail establishment.

Alternatively, even though an employee may be employed with a retailer, their work might be definitively clerical work or maybe they are a call centre operator and in that case, the Clerks Award may provide better coverage for this employee.

Myth 2: It is cheaper to employ clerical staff under the Clerks Award, so we will use that.
It is always important to have due regard to the appropriate Award coverage for an employee. Even so, the Clerks Award takes into account years of service and levels of competency which is not accounted for in the Retail Award. Furthermore, the Clerks Award has more restricted ordinary hours of work as compared to the Retail Award which may attract higher penalty rates.

Award Check 1: Penalties under the Clerks Award
The ordinary hours of work provided in Clause 25 of the Clerks Award are 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 12:30pm on Saturday. This means that employees working outside of these prescribed hours of work may be entitled to additional penalties for the completion of such work.

Award Check 2: Annualised Salaries
Some modern Awards, the Clerks Award included, provide for a simpler manner by which to annualise salaries. Clause 17 of the Clerks Award provides guidance on how to calculate, review and monitor the annual salaries of staff members.

Employer should be aware that just because they are paying above the Award base rate, this may not mean you are paying your staff correctly. Annualised salaries need to properly account for weekend work, overtime penalties, and other allowances. It is your responsibility to pay your staff correctly.

Award Check 3: Classifications
The Clerks Award has an interesting quirk by clearly accounting for the years of service the employee has had in clerical work generally. Where an employee can provide evidence in accordance with Clause 15.3 of service within the clerical industry, the Award provides unambiguous guidelines as to the level and year that would correspond to their experience.

This is distinctive from other Awards, especially the Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010 [MA000005] (Hair and Beauty Award) which does not account for years of service in the industry when determining classifications and corresponding wage rates for staff members.


Myth 1: We have a warehouse where stock is stored, so staff that work there must be covered by the Storage Services Award.

The coverage clause in the Storage Services Award details that the Award applies to employers in the storage services and wholesale industry and their employees. The Award has specifically used the word “and” instead of “or” to limit the application of this clause.

So, on a common-sense reading of this clause, an employer who merely stores stock but does not compete in the wholesale industry may not be covered by this Award. If a retailer merely holds stock, and that stock is then distributed to a retail establishment rather than being wholesaled to other suppliers or bulk buy customers, they would likely find coverage for staff instead under the Retail Award.

Award Check 1: Facilitative Provisions
This Award provides clear guidance on how and what provisions an employer and an employee or majority of employees may choose to vary. For instance, an individual may agree to transfer to or from shiftwork or travelling allowances, and a majority of employees may vary payment of wages or maximum hours of work.

Award Check 2: Ordinary Hours of Work
Interestingly, the Storage Services Award specifically contemplates the requirement for longer work days in this industry. As a result, the ordinary hours of staff may be worked on five or five days, and contingent on majority agreement a maximum of ten ordinary hours may be worked on one day.

Another interesting quirk of this Award is the ability for staff to “make-up time”. Practically, an employee and employer may agree that the employee elects to take time off during ordinary hours and works those hours at a later time, but at the rate that would have been applicable during ordinary hours.

Award Check 3: Minimum Shift Hours
While this Award, similar to many others our members would be used to has a minimum shift engagement of three consecutive hours, that changes when a staff member is called back in.

When a staff member is called back in to work, the shift must instead be a minimum of four hours and a higher penalty rate applies.

Award Check 4: Penalties, Allowances and More
The Storage Services Award has a variety of penalties and allowances that employers in the retail industry may not have otherwise been aware. Check you are complying with Clause 16 which deals with allowances, and Clause 24 which summarises overtime and penalty rates. It is easy to master paying your staff all their correct entitlements, once you understand what they all are!

This article has summarised just a few of the hidden secrets in these Awards. If your business wants to discuss either Award, ring our specialist Workplace Advisors on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).

We know how tricky Award interpretation can be. Don’t do it alone – give us a call on 1800 RETAIL (738 245).

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