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Professional Employees Award 2020 — Key Changes for IT, Science & Auditing Employers

March 17, 2023   Arnav GandhiPhilip Evangelou

Recently, the Fair Work Commission made a notable amendment to the Professional Employees Award 2020 (‘the Award’). Awards are statutory agreements between employers and employee representative groups that cover key terms of employment, such as pay, working conditions and the amount of leave an employee can receive. 

The Professional Employee Award 2020 covers employees who works as IT professionals, scientists and auditors. The Fair Work Commission found out that these workers are often required to work extra hours during busy periods of the year, without overtime pay and rarely receive compensatory leave.

Consequently, they have amended the Award to better compensate workers who are often forced to work unsociable hours. They have also expanded the scope of the award and provided more clarity to key definitions. 

Main Changes

Overtime Pay and Penalty Rates

Employers now must compensate staff who work more than 38 hours per week through overtime pay. This includes any remote work or work associated with call backs or performed on electronic devices. If an employer does not provide reasonable overtime compensation they can opt to give workers additional time off in lieu of overtime pay, 

Employers must pay their employees penalty rates if they work any time between 10pm to 6am, Monday through Saturday. The penalty rate is 125% of the base rate and includes any overtime pay.

For any work performed on Sunday or a public holiday, employers must pay a 150% penalty rate. This includes overtime pay.

Note that these penalty rates stack onto any casual loading rates. 

Employers must accurately record hours.

To comply with the amendment, employers must keep accurate and complete records of any hours an employee has worked beyond the maximum 38 hour workweek or worked during unsociable hours, Sundays and public holidays. 

Scope of the award 

The award and these changes apply to any professional working as scientists, engineers, auditors or IT professional. However the award does not apply when 

  • The employee tasks are primarily managerial in nature 
  • The employee receives pay that is 25% than the minimum amount stipulated in the award

What should employers do?

If your business operates in the IT, Science and auditing industry you should:

  • Conduct an award determination to confirm if your employees are covered by the Award
  • Audit your current workplace policies and contracts to ensure they do not violate the Award
  • Make appropriate changes in your pay system to ensure compliance
  • Ensure there is a record keeping mechanism you can use to record hours in your organisation 

If you want advice on how to deal with the changes brought by this amendment or would like your employment contracts reviewed and updated, our senior commercial lawyers who have extensive experience in employment law can help you. For any questions, give us call at 1300 337 997. You can also submit an enquiry at 

About Arnav Gandhi

Arnav is a 3rd year student studying Commerce and Law at Macquarie University. He is interested in Commercial Transactions in the Startup and Venture Capital space. In his spare time he likes to read and keep fit.

About Philip Evangelou

phillipPhil is a director at OpenLegal. He has over 16 years experience working in private practice and in-house counsel in Sydney and London, giving him expertise in employment law, IP, finance, leases, dispute resolution, insurance and contracts.