The Fair Work Ombudsman’s (FWO) Annual Report stated there had been an increase of 44% in anonymous complaints over the last year; that’s over 15,000 tip-offs. Inadvertently giving staff incorrect pay or entitlements ranks as one of the greatest business risks that SMEs face. But let’s face it – it’s complicated.

Even the FWO concedes that modern awards are tough to interpret. Currently, the awards guidance from FWO runs to over 100 densely written pages, prepared by lawyers. Is it any wonder that SMEs are making mistakes? It’s not uncommon for small business to do their utmost to make sense of this document, only to find they’re breaching industry awards when they’re audited. By this stage, it’s too late to fix the issues, and the business may pay hefty fines or face court hearings.

However, complying with industry awards is a preventable HR risk. With the correct HR policies, procedures and guidelines in place, SMEs can sidestep compliance risks. In Australia, it is crucial for you to know which modern award may apply to your staff, and how these awards set out the minimum conditions such as pay, leave and penalty rates.

If you need to check whether you’re meeting obligations to staff – or if you’re unsure which awards apply to your industry and job roles – consider engaging a professional HR consultant. Don’t leave it until it’s too late.


To minimise your risk and optimise your business for HR peace of mind, or if you have any questions, we’d love to help.

Contact your 360HR Solutions team member or our Corporate Head Office on email and 02 4225 2223.