Fair Work Australia (FWA) has recently completed a review of the Fitness Industry Award 2010, as part of the statutory requirement under the Fair Work Act 2009, that sees the contents of all Modern Awards subject to scrutiny by that tribunal.
In 2011, Service Skills Australia finalised the SIS Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package which has subsequently been fully endorsed. This development led to United Voice, the union representing the majority of workers in the sector, making an application as part of the award review process seeking “to apply proper minimum rates of pay for the Award, fully reflective of the qualifications required for work covered by the Award.”
The union argued that the finalisation of the Sport, Fitness and Recreation Training Package “takes place in the context of a growing industry, gaining higher levels of skills through training, and anticipating future employment growth.”
“About 6,000 more people will be employed in the sector in 2015 than in 2009. While strong employment growth is forecast for fitness instructors, the number of swimming coaches employed is expected to be fairly stable. In 2015, there will be 11,000 more people with qualifications than in 2009. The number without qualifications will be fewer by 5,000. The proportion with qualifications will increase from 59% in 2008 to 72% in 2015.”
“In the context of low casual loadings and relatively low weekend penalties, it would be neither fair nor equitable for the minimum award rates applicable to fitness industry workers to continue at a level which is below that applicable to comparable classification levels (in terms of AQF qualification levels) in other awards.”
Initially employer representatives opposed the application in the terms sought by the Union. Swim Australia and ASCTA strongly argued “Any changes to the relationship between Levels 2 -5 would greatly impact the viability of the sector……… any additional labour costs will adversely affect families capacity to provide essential water safety training to their children.” Both organisations joined with representatives of Fitness Australia and other National Employer Organisations, to argue that any increases should be delayed to the completion of the Transitional Process to the Modern Award, on or after 1.7.14.
After lengthy negotiations, over several sessions, Deputy President Hamilton of Fair Work Australia was advised on 8th October that: “the parties have agreed on a revised classification structure. They’ve also agreed on the rates of pay that should apply to the revised classification structure. They’ve also agreed on a timetable for phasing in the agreed rates of pay.” And further; “that each of the parties is satisfied that the proposals are reasonable, having regard to the nature of this review and the history of this award; and that the package is relevant to the particular circumstances of the classification structure in this award.”
Two new classifications have been incorporated into the award for holders of either AQF Certificate Level III and IV and who utilises the skills and knowledge derived from holding either.
Following on, are changes in the qualification for Level 5 (reference is now made to the Fitness Industry AQF Diploma Level relevant to the work undertaken at this Level), and relative rates of pay for the classifications at Levels 5,6 & 7.
Increases will be phased-in between January 2013 and January 2015. View new Fitness Industry Award Classifications & Rates here.
The ramifications of these changes are:
- A distortion in the relative value of the hourly rates between levels 5 & 6 from 1st January 2014;
- The need for employers to clearly indicate (preferably in writing ) if the employee, or applicant for employment, will be required to hold formal qualifications, and utilise the skills and knowledge relating to the new classifications;
- The new rates of pay will not be subject to the “Transitional Provisions” of the award, and moreover, the rates will be adjusted in line with annual reviews of all Modern Award rates conducted by Fair Work Australia.
Further, due to the extent of the wage increments involved during the phase-in period, employers with existing Enterprise Agreements may find that, in the event that they do require employees to hold and utilise the relevant qualifications, they are best served by reviewing the contents of their Agreements.