The Ultimate Retail Award (MA000004) Summary

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Everything you need to know about the Retail Award (MA000004), without the jargon. 

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The Retail Award is a complex and ever-evolving Modern Award focused in several sectors and has a broad coverage in one of the country's biggest industries.

You can read also read our article that covers the 8 conditions that retail businesses didn't know existed in the retail award

In addition, you can download a FREE copy of our Retail Award eBook that covers everything you need to know about the award, without the jargon which comes with a BONUS payroll processing checklist. 

This summary provides will provide you a comprehensive understanding of everything you need to know about the Retail Award to ensure you have maximum compliance.

Disclaimer:
Please note that every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided in this guide is accurate. You should note, however, that the information is intended as a guide only, providing an overview of general information available. This guide is not intended to be an exhaustive source of information and should not be seen to constitute legal or tax advice. You should, where necessary, seek a second professional opinion for any legal or tax issues raised in your business affairs.

The general retail industry is quite large, covering areas that sell or hire goods or services, including:

  1. Clothing
  2. Food
  3. Furniture and household goods
  4. Personal and recreational goods
  5. Bakeries
  6. Repair services for household equipment
  7. Customer information or assistance at retail complexes
  8. Delivery of newspapers

The general retail industry award (MA000004) also covers:

  1. On-hire employees that are working in the general retail industry, and the on-hire employers of those employees
  2. Apprentices or trainees that are employed by a group training employer and hosted by an employer covered by this award

However, the general retail industry award (MA000004) does NOT cover:

  1. Employees excluded from award coverage by the Act
  2. Employees that are covered by a modern enterprise award or an enterprise instrument
  3. Employees that are covered by a State reference public sector modern award or a State reference public sector transitional award
  4. Employees that are covered by any of the following awards:
    1. The Fast Food Industry Award 2010
    2. The Meat Industry Award 2020
    3. The Hair and Beauty Industry Award 2010
    4. The Pharmacy Industry Award 2020.
  5. Employees that work in the following establishments:
    1. Community pharmacies
    2. Pharmacies in hospitals or other institutions that provide in-patient services
    3. Hair and beauty establishments
    4. Stand-alone butcher shops
    5. Stand-alone nurseries
    6. Manufacturing or processing establishments other than seafood processing
    7. Hair and beauty work in the theatrical, amusement or entertainment industries
    8. Clerical functions performed away from a retail establishment
    9. Warehousing and distribution
    10. Motor vehicle retailing and motor vehicle fuel and parts retailing
    11. Restaurants, cafes, hotels, motels or fast food operations
    12. Building, construction, installation, repair or maintenance contractors engaged to perform work at a retail establishment.

If an employer is covered by more than one award, they are covered by the award containing the classification that is most appropriate to the work that they perform.

An employee working in the general retail industry who is not covered by this industry award may be covered by an award with occupational coverage.

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  • Full-time
  • Part-time; or
  • Casual

Full-time Employees

To be classified as a full-time employee, you must engage in an average of 38 ordinary hours per week in accordance with your agreed hours of work engagement.

 

Part-time Employees

To be classified as a part-time employee, you must be engaged in fewer than 38 ordinary hours per week on a reasonably predictable schedule.

This award applies to part-time employees in the same way that it applies to full-time employees unless stated.

Part-time employees are entitled to annual leave and personal/carer’s leave payments proportionate to full-time work.

 

Setting Guaranteed Hours and Availability

At the time of employment, an employee and employer must agree in writing on a regular pattern of work that must include:

  1. The number of hours worked each day
  2. The days of the week on which the employee work
  3. The times that the employee will start and finish work each day
  4. When meal breaks can be taken and their duration

A part-time employee must engage in a minimum of 3 consecutive hours on a working day.

 

Changes to Roster

The roster of a part-time employee may be changed if:

  1. The employer gives the employee 7 days, or in an emergency 48 hours, written notice.
  2. Mutual agreement between the employer and the employee is reached
  3. However, the roster of a part-time employee must not be changed from week to week

Casual Employees

If an employee has no guaranteed hours of work or works irregular hours, then they are considered to be a casual worker.

Due to a lack of annual leave and personal/carer’s leave, sick leave, redundancy benefits and the other entitlements that full- and part-time employees receive, casual workers are paid an additional 25% loading on top of their base rate of pay.

A casual employee must be paid for a minimum of 3 hours of work, or 1.5 hours work if:

  1. The employee is a full-time secondary school student
  2. The employee is working between 3pm and 6:30pm on a day that the employee is required to attend school
  3. The employee (with parental or guardian approval) agrees to work less than 3 hours

Employers must pay casual employees at the end of each shift, weekly or fortnightly in accordance with pay arrangements for full-time and part-time employees.

 

Right to Request Casual Conversion

A regular casual employee is someone who is employed on a regular basis for a period of at least 12 months.

A regular casual employee can request in writing to have their employment converted to part-time or full-time employment depending on their regular hours.

An employer can refuse or agree to the request based on reasonable grounds such as:

  1. The requirement of a significant change to the casual employee’s hours of work
  2. It is reasonably foreseeable that the hours of work required will be significantly reduced over the next 12 months
  3. When refusing a request, the employer must provide written details of the reasons for refusal within 21 days of the request.

Once an agreement is reached, the employee and employer must agree upon:

  1. Whether the employee is converting to part- or full-time employment
  2. Employee conditions depending on the agreed-upon employment type

The conversion will take effect from the start of the next pay cycle once an agreement has been reached unless otherwise agreed.

Once a casual employee has converted to full-time or part-time employment, they only revert to casual employment with the written agreement of the employer.

 

Apprentices

Employers can employ apprentices in accordance with laws that regular apprentices. This award applies to apprentices in the same way that it applies to a full-time employee unless explicitly stated.

Employers must not require apprentices to work overtime or shift work if it prevents their attendance at training in accordance with their training agreement, except in an emergency.

 

Training

Employers must release an apprentice from work to attend training or any assessment without loss of pay or continuity of employment.

The employer must make any required reimbursements by whichever of the following is later:

  1. 6 months after the start of the apprenticeship; or
  2. 6 months after the relevant stage of the apprenticeship; or
  3. 3 months after the start of the training provided by the RTO.

Block Release Training

If an apprentice is attending training that requires an overnight stay, the employer must pay reasonable travel costs for travelling to and from the training. However, the employer is not obligated to pay if the apprentice could have attended training at a close venue and attending the more distant training had not been agreed on.

Reasonable travel costs include:

  1. The total cost of reasonable transportation (including transportation of tools, where required) to and from the training; and
  2. Accommodation costs; and
  3. Reasonable expenses, including for meals, incurred which exceed those incurred in the normal course of travelling to and from the workplace.
  4. Reasonable costs do not include payment for travelling time or expenses incurred while not travelling to and from the block release training.
  5. The amount to be paid may be reduced by any amount that the apprentice was eligible to receive for travel costs to attend block release training under a Government apprentice assistance scheme.

 

Junior Employees

A junior employee is defined as an employee who is less than 21 years of age.

Under the general retail industry award (MA000004), employers may engage junior employees as long as they are paid according to the following rates.

Age

% of minimum rate

15 years of age and under

45%

16 years of age

50%

17 years of age

60%

18 years of age

70%

19 years of age

80%

20 years of age and employed by the employer for 6 months or less

90%

20 years of age and employed by the employer for more than 6 months

100%

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Days

Span of hours

Monday to Friday

7am - 9pm

Saturday

7am - 6pm

Sunday

9am - 6pm 


However, ordinary hours may be worked:

  1. From 5am in a newsagency
  2. Until midnight in a video shop
  3. Until 11pm if trading hours extend beyond 9pm on a Monday-Friday or 6pm on a Saturday or Sunday

The maximum number of ordinary hours that can be worked is 9; however, an employee can be rostered to work up to 11 ordinary hours on one day per week.

 

Full-time Employees

For a full-time employee, ordinary work hours consist of working an average of 38 hours per week.

These ordinary work hours can be reached by:

  1. Working 38 hours per week
  2. Working 76 hours over 2 consecutive weeks
  3. Working 114 hours over 3 consecutive weeks
  4. Working 152 hours over 4 consecutive weeks
  5. Working an average of 38 hours per week over a longer period agreed between the employer and the employee.

In an establishment of at least 15 employees, employers must not roster an employee to work ordinary hours on more than 19 days in a 4-week cycle.

 

Rostering Arrangements

Except by arrangement, a roster period cannot exceed 4 weeks.

Employees cannot be rostered to work more than 5 days per week unless they are rostered on 6 days in one week and 4 days in the following.

An employer must roster employees in a way that allows for 2 consecutive days off per week or 3 consecutive days off per 2-week cycle.

The maximum number of consecutive days that an employee may work is 6.

 

Employees that Regularly Work Sundays

Employees who regularly work Sundays must be rostered in a way that they have 3 consecutive days off per 4-week cycle unless agreed on in writing by the employee.

 

Notification of Rosters

Employers must make sure that the work roster is available to all employees in a conveniently located noticeboard or electronically.

The roster must show for each employee:

  1. The number of ordinary hours being worked each week
  2. The days of the week to be worked
  3. The start and finish times of shifts

Employers must keep copies of completed rosters for at least 12 months and produce it if necessary.

The roster may be changed by mutual agreement of the employer and employee at any time before the employee arrives for work if unexpected operation requirements arise.

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Hours worked per shift

Breaks

Meal breaks

Between 4 and 5

One 10 minute paid rest break

 

Between 5 and 7

One 10 minute paid rest break

One unpaid 30 - 60 minute meal break

Between 7 and 10

Two 10 minute paid rest breaks (one to be taken in the first half of the shift and one in the second half)

One unpaid 30 - 60 minute meal break

10+

Two 10 minute paid rest breaks (one to be taken in the first half of the shift and one in the second half)

Two unpaid 30 - 60 minute meal break


An employer can NOT require an employee:

  1. To take a rest break or meal break within the first or the last hour of work
  2. To take a rest break combined with a meal break
  3. To work more than 5 hours without taking a meal break.

Employees must have a minimum break of 12 hours between finishing work on one day and starting work on the next.

If an employee starts work again without having 12 hours off work, they must be paid at a rate of 200% of what they would otherwise be entitled to.

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Please refer to the Pay Guide for the General Retail Industry Award (MA000004) here.

Please also refer to the minimum rates for different classifications here.

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This applies when an employee carries out higher duties for 2 or more hours on any particular day. They are entitled to the higher rate for the entire day.

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  1. Meal Allowance - if your employee is required to work more than one hour of overtime on any day without 24 hours notice
  2. Special Clothing Allowance - If your employees are required to wear any specialised clothing or protective items outside of a regular uniform
  3. Excess travelling costs - If your employee is required to work at a place other than their usual place of work for a period of up to 3 weeks
  4. Travelling time reimbursement - If your employee is required to work at a place other than their usual place of work
  5. Moving expenses - If your employee is transferred from one township to another
  6. Motor vehicle allowance - If your employee is required to use their own motor vehicle to perform duties
  7. Transport reimbursement - If your employee (other than a shift worker) who starts work before 7am or finishes at 10pm and their regular method of transport is not available
  8. Cold work allowance - If your employee is principally employed on any day to enter cold chambers or to stock or refill refrigerated storages
  9. First aid allowance - If your employee has a first aid certification and is required to use it on duty
  10. Recall allowance - If your employee is recalled to work by the employer to perform specific duties
  11. Liquor licence - If your employee holds a liquor licence under a relevant State or Territory law
  12. Broken Hill - If your employees work at a workplace within the County of Yancowinna in New South Wales

Search our database for all relevant allowances to your modern award.

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A rate of 9.5% of an employee’s ordinary earnings must be contributed to a nominated fund.

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Reasonable Overtime

An employer can require an employee to work reasonable overtime hours at the appropriate overtime rates. However, an employee can refuse to work overtime hours if they are unreasonable.

When determining whether overtime hours are reasonable, the following is to be taken into account:

  1. Any risk to employee health and safety from working the additional hours
  2. The employee's personal circumstances, including family responsibilities
  3. The needs of the workplace
  4. Whether the employee is entitled to receive overtime payments, penalty rates or other compensation for working additional hours
  5. Notice is given by the employer when requesting the additional hours
  6. Notice is given by the employee of refusal to work additional hours
  7. The usual patterns of work in the industry
  8. The nature of the employee's role and the employee's level of responsibility
  9. Any other relevant matters

Payment of Overtime

Employers need to pay overtime rates if:

  1. Ordinary weekly hours of work are exceeded, e.g. working more than 38 hours for a full-time employee.
  2. Casual employees work in excess of 38 hours per week or roster cycle
  3. Casual employees work in excess of 11 hours on one day of the week and in excess of 9 hours on another day of the week

Overtime Rate

Overtime rates that need to be paid under the general retail award (MA000004) are outlined in the table below.

For overtime worked on

Full-time and part-time employees
% of minimum hourly rate of pay

Casual employees
% of minimum hourly rate of pay
(inclusive of casual loading)

Monday to Saturday - first 3 hours

150%

175%

Monday to Saturday - more than 3 hours

200%

225%

Sunday

200%

225%

Public holiday

250%

275%

 

Time Off Instead of Payment for Overtime

Employees are entitled to take time off instead of being paid for their overtime worked.

Time off must be taken:

  1. Within 6 months after the overtime is worked
  2. At an agreed-on time within that 6 month period

If time off for overtime is not taken within the period of 6 months, the employer must pay the employee for the overtime in the next pay period.

Employers must not exert undue influence or undue pressure on employees to make an agreement to take time off instead of payment for overtime.

If on the termination of the employee’s employment, the employer must pay the employee for the overtime at the correct rate.

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The below table outlines the rates that employees are entitled to at different times.

Time of ordinary hours worked

Full-time and part-time employees
% of minimum hourly rate

Casual employees
% of minimum hourly rate (inclusive of casual loading)

Monday to Friday - after 6.00 pm (1 October 2020 to 28 February 2021)

125%

145%

Monday to Friday - after 6.00 pm (from 1 March 2021)

125%

150%

Saturday

125%

150%

Sunday

150%

175%

Public holiday

225%

250%

 

Work on Public Holidays

A full-time or part-time employee and an employer can agree that instead of the employee being paid an additional 125% of the minimum hourly rate, the following applies:

  1. The employee is paid at their minimum hourly rate; and
  2. An amount of paid time equivalent to the hours worked on the public holiday is added to the employee’s annual leave to be taken within a period of 28 days after the public holiday.

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For baking production employees, shiftwork means starting a shift after midnight and before 6am.

Shiftwork Rates

The following rates must be applied when paying shift workers.

Time of shiftwork hours worked

Part-time and full-time employees
% of minimum hourly rate

Casual employees
% of minimum hourly rate (inclusive of casual loading)

Midnight Sunday to midnight Friday

130%

155%

Saturday

150%

175%

Sunday

175%

200%

 

Rostering Restrictions

Shiftwork rosters cannot be changed to avoid public holiday entitlements of shift workers.

Rosters of shift workers cannot be arranged to have them do both shiftwork and non-shift work in the same week.

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Annual Leave

Annual leave is covered under the NES. However, It does not apply to casual employees.

 

Additional Paid Annual Leave for Certain Shiftworkers

This applies to employees who are regularly rostered to work on Sundays and public holidays in a business that operates 24/7. This employee is a shift worker for the purposes of the NES.

 

Additional Payment for Annual Leave

For an employee other than a shift worker, the additional payment is the greater of:

  1. 17.5% of the employee’s minimum hourly rate for all ordinary hours of work in the period
  2. The employee’s minimum hourly rate for all ordinary hours of work in the period inclusive of penalty rates

For a shift worker, the additional payment is the greater of:

  1. 17.5% of the employee’s minimum hourly rate for all ordinary hours of work in the period
  2. The employee’s minimum hourly rate for all ordinary hours of work in the period inclusive of penalty rates for shiftwork

Temporary Close-Down

This applies if an employer intends to close down its operations or part of a workplace for a particular period and wants to require affected employees to take paid annual leave during this period.

The employer must give the affected employees at least 4 weeks notice of a temporary closedown period and then may require affected employees to take a period of paid annual leave during a temporary closedown period.

Excessive Leave Accruals

If an employee has accrued more than 8 weeks paid annual leave (or 10 weeks’ paid annual leave for a shift worker), they have excessive leave accrual. When this occurs, an agreement between the employer and employee can be made where the leave is either paid out or taken at a convenient time.

Annual Leave in Advance

Employers and employees may agree in writing to the employee taking a period of paid annual leave before the employee has accrued the leave. However, an agreement must:

  1. State the amount of leave to be taken in advance, and the date on which leave is to commence; and
  2. Be signed by the employer and employee

The employer must keep a copy of any agreement as an employee record.

If on the termination of employment, the employee has not accrued all of a period of paid annual leave already taken, the employer can deduct the amount that was paid to the employee for taken annual leave from any money due to the employee.

 

Cashing Out of Annual Leave

Employers and employees may agree in writing to cashing out a particular amount of an employee’s accrued paid annual leave. The agreement must state:

  1. The amount of leave to be cashed out and the payment to be made to the employee; and
  2. The date the payment is to be made.
  3. The agreement must be signed by the employer and employee

An agreement must not result in the employee’s remaining accrued paid annual leave being less than 4 weeks, with a maximum amount of paid annual leave that can be cashed out in 12 months being 2 weeks.

The employer must keep a copy of any agreement as an employee record.

 

Personal/Carer’s Leave and Compassionate Leave

Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave entitlements are covered under the NES.

Casual employees are entitled to be absent from work to care for a person who has an illness or an injury or is in an emergency. They may only be absent from work for a period of up to 48 hours without an agreement from the employer.

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Payment for Work on Public Holidays or Substitute Day

Employees who work on a public holiday are entitled to the appropriate payment rates.

If an employee works on both a public holiday and on a day that is substituted for the public holiday, the public holiday penalty rate is applicable to just one of those days. The employee may choose which one is to be paid at the public holiday penalty rate.

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Notice of Termination by an Employee

Employees must give their employer notice of termination as below:

Employee’s period of continuous service with the employer at the end of the day the notice is given

Period of notice

Not more than 1 year

1 week

More than 1 year but not more than 3 years

2 weeks

More than 3 years but not more than 5 years

3 weeks

More than 5 years

4 weeks

 

The notice that an employee is required to give is the same required of an employer, except the employee does not have to give additional notice based on their age.

If an employee who is at least 18 years old does not give the period of notice required, then the employer can deduct from wages due to the employee. However, no more than one week’s wages for the employee.

If the employer has agreed to a shorter period of notice, then no deduction can be made.

 

Job Search Entitlement

When an employer gives an employee notice of termination, the employee must be given up to one day off without loss of pay to seek other employment.

This time off is to be taken when convenient to the employee, after consultation with the employer.

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Transfer to Lower Paid Duties on Redundancy

This applies to employees that are transferred to new duties on a lower rate of pay, due to redundancy. The employer may:

  1. Give the employee notice of the transfer at least the same length as if it were a notice of termination; or
  2. Transfer the employee to the new duties without giving notice of transfer, providing the employer pays the employee as below.
    1. The employee is entitled to an amount equal to the difference between the ordinary rate of pay of the employee for the hours of work the employee would have worked in the first role and the ordinary rate of pay of the employee in the second role for the period for which notice was not given.

 

Employee Leaving During Redundancy Notice Period

An employee given redundancy notice may terminate their employment during the minimum period of notice. The employee is entitled to receive the benefits and payments they would have received had they remained in employment until the expiry of the notice.

However, the employee is not entitled to pay after the employee ceased to be employed.

 

Job Search Entitlement

When an employer has given notice of redundancy to an employee, the employee must be given up to one day off without loss of pay to seek other employment.

This time off is to be taken when convenient to the employee, after consultation with the employer. If requested by the employer, the employee must produce proof of attendance at an interview.

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