Changes to the Legal Services Award 2010: Are you compliant?

23/03/2020

Practice support

From 1 March 2020 changes to the Legal Services Award 2010 (the Legal Services Award) became effective. The Legal Services Award applies, in New South Wales, to employers engaged in the business of providing legal and legal support services in respect of employees classified as ‘legal, clerical and administrative employees’, including law graduates who are not employed as solicitors. It applies to barristers in respect of employees engaged to do work for their practice, such as personal assistants, secretaries, book-keepers and researchers. It also applies to sets of chambers in respect of staff they employ. The award covers full time, part time and casual employees but does not apply to those who are engaged as independent contractors (which would be the case, for example, for many bookkeepers). There are also other exclusions from coverage.

The changes to the Legal Services Award relate primarily to full time employees who are paid an ‘annualised wage’, rather than on an hourly rate. Part time and casual employees are not permitted to have annualised wage arrangements as they are described under the award (although could be otherwise). Rules apply in respect of who can be paid an annualised wage, what must be included in an annualised wage, the records that must be kept, and notification and reconciliation requirements. Information on the changes can be found on the Fair Work Ombudsman’s webpage.

The Bar Association encourages chambers and barristers to review that information and if they have any question to obtain independent advice as to whether they are covered by the Legal Services Award in respect of those they pay and what, if any, implications the amendments effective as of 1 March 2020 have for them.


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