Hot Topic: Review of Modern Awards

If you employ people in your road transport business then there are two Awards that set a floor on what terms and conditions you must offer to workers. These are the Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010 and the Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010. Both are now under specific review by the Fair Work Commission as part of the group of transport industry awards.

The National Road Transport Association (NatRoad) is actively involved in examining and promoting proposed changes to the transport modern awards. Some of the changes proposed by the Transport Workers Union (TWU) will be opposed as the changes would impose costs on members by adding to the costs of employing drivers without any productivity offsets. NatRoad is also involved in modern award proceedings that affect all awards including these two vital transport awards.

The review process has begun and will continue into late 2017 before new awards are made.  The Fair Work Commission is hoping to complete the task by the end of 2017 but has issued no guarantees about when the process will end.  NatRoad is now preparing for the litigation about the two specific transport awards which will be heard in the Fair Work Commission in March 2017.

Proposed Changes

There are some changes that have the potential to add millions in costs to the industry including a claim that employers must make up the pay of a worker on workers compensation to 100% of the pre-injury wages (although it is unclear whether this claim is being pursued) and a proposed new allowance for “pick up and drop off.” This allowance would be payable where a long distance driver is required to pick up or drop off at more than 2 locations at the main point of the commencement or completion of the journey. The allowance would also be payable where the long distance driver is required to drop off or pick up en route.

The details of the changes are set out in two TWU submissions lodged on 19 January 2017.

The submission for the Long Distance Award is here

The submission for the Distribution Award is here

Critical Timings

  • Early 2016 – NatRoad made early submissions to the review
  • October 2016 – Fair Work Commission set down matters to arbitrated
  • November 2016 – the Fair Work Commission released the exposure drafts of the new awards with some wording changes and minor changes; NatRoad lodged a submission on each exposure draft.
  • 21 December 2016 Transport Worker Unions claims lodged in Fair Work Commission
  • 19 January 2017 – Transport Workers Union lodged submissions with amended claims in Fair Work Commission
  • 2 March 2017 All submissions opposing changes to be submitted to Fair Work Commission
  • 6-10 March 2017 Evidence to support or oppose changes presented to the Fair Work Commission
  • 23-24 March 2017 Final submissions on proposed changes to the Fair Work Commission
  • June – July 2017 Final outcome likely to be known


Modern awards are important.  They form the second element of Australia’s workplace relations safety net.  The first is the National Employment Standards (NES).  It is unlawful to employ someone on conditions less than in the NES or the applicable modern award.  So provisions that increase costs in modern awards affect everyone in the industry.  This includes those who have an enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) as an employee must be better off overall under the EBA than under a modern award.

Staying Informed

NatRoad will continue to keep members updated of the Award review process.

Key Resources

Road Transport and Distribution Award 2010

Road Transport (Long Distance Operations) Award 2010