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Awards & Salaries

In January 2010 there were some important changes to Australia's workplace laws that affect your practice.

The key changes are:

  • introduction of modern awards including the Legal Services Award 2010
  • introduction of the National Employment Standards (NES).

Legal Services Award 2010

All existing awards have been replaced by new modern awards. The modern award that will apply to the legal industry is the Legal Services Award 2010. View full award (PDF).

The Legal Services Award 2010 commenced on January 2010 and established new minimum conditions and rates of pay.

Who Does This Award Apply To?

The Legal Services Award 2010 applies to employers engaged in the business of providing legal and legal support services and covers all legal clerical and administrative employees, as well as law graduates/trainees and law clerks.

Lawyers are exempt from award coverage, and industry sectors such as the Property & Business Services Sector which previously captured lawyers, no longer exist. Lawyers are therefore completely award-free.

Minimum Rates for Those Covered by the Legal Services Award 2010

The Fair Work Commission has announced a 1.75% increase to minimum wages. This will apply to all award wages.

Increases to awards will start on 3 different dates for different groups of awards.

The new minimum wages for the Legal Services Award will start from the first full pay period starting on or after 1 November 2020.

Calculate the correct pay rates under modern awards with Fair Work Australia’s online tool PayCheck Plus.

Minimum Rates for Those Exempt from Award Coverage

The National Minimum Wage applies to employees not covered by an award or registered agreement. This is the minimum pay rate provided by the Fair Work Act 2009 and is reviewed each year.

As of 1 July 2020 the national minimum wage is $19.84 per hour or $753.80 per week.

Employees covered by an award or registered agreement are entitled to the minimum pay rates, including penalty rates and allowances in their award or agreement. These pay rates may be higher than the National Minimum Wage.

A casual employee must be paid per hour at the rate of 1/38th of the weekly rate prescribed for the class of work performed, plus 25 per cent. This loading is to be paid instead of entitlements to leave and other matters from which casuals are excluded by the terms of this award and the NES.

An indication of market rates for lawyers can be found in the salary guide below. All other minimum terms and conditions of employment will be derived from the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), and in particular the National Employment Standards.

Salary Guides

National Employment Standards

The Fair Work Act provides a safety net of enforceable minimum employment terms and conditions through the National Employment Standards (NES), replacing the Australian Fair Pay and Conditions Standard.

The NES sets out 10 minimum workplace entitlements that from 1 January 2010 apply to all employers and employees in the national workplace relations system (please note that only certain entitlements apply to casual employees).

  1. Maximum weekly hours of work: A maximum standard working week of 38 hours for full-time employees, plus "reasonable" additional hours.
  2. Requests for flexible working arrangements: A right to request flexible working arrangements to care for a child under school age, or a child (under 18) with a disability.
  3. Parental leave and related entitlements: Parental and adoption leave of 12 months (unpaid), with a right to request an additional 12 months. For more information about parental leave and related entitlements see Fair Work Ombudsman fact sheet (PDF).
  4. Annual leave: Four weeks paid annual leave each year (pro rata for part-time employees).
  5. Personal/Carers/ Compassionate leave: Ten days paid personal/carer’s leave each year (pro rata for part-time staff), two days paid compassionate leave for each permissible occasion, and two days unpaid carer’s leave for each permissible occasion.
  6. Community service leave: Community service leave for jury service or activities dealing with certain emergencies or natural disasters. This leave is unpaid except for jury service.
  7. Long service leave: Long service leave entitlements apply to all permanent and long term casual employees. For more information about long service leave entitlements see the Fair Work Ombudsman fact sheet (PDF).
  8. Public holidays: Public holidays and the entitlement to be paid for ordinary hours on those days. Public holidays are recognised days off, except where reasonably requested to work.
  9. Notice of termination and redundancy pay: Employees are entitled to notice of termination and redundancy pay. This entitlement is based on length of service. For more information about notice of termination and redundancy pay see the Notice of Termination and Redundancy Pay and National Employment Standards fact sheet (PDF).
  10. Fair Work Information Statement: Employers must provide all new employees with a copy of the Fair Work Information Statement. The statement contains information about the National Employment Standards: modern awards, agreement making, the right to freedom of association, termination of employment, individual flexibility arrangements, rights of entry, transfer of business, and the respective roles of Fair Work Australia and the Fair Work Ombudsman. View a copy of the FairWork Information Statement (PDF).

For more information, contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.