The Fair Work Commission recently made significant changes to the Miscellaneous Award 2020 (the Miscellaneous Award), which came into effect on 1 July 2020. It is important that all businesses review their current employment arrangements, to ensure that employees who were thought to be ‘non-award covered’ employees have not been caught in the wider net now cast by the Miscellaneous Award.

Prior to the changes coming into effect, the Miscellaneous Award operated so that an employee working in an industry with award coverage (i.e. construction), but with no classification for their particular role (i.e. a security guard hired to protect the worksite), was considered award-free. However, the new changes mean that this will not longer be the case. Therefore, an employee who is not covered by another industry or occupational modern award can now potentially be covered by the Miscellaneous Award. This is subject to the following exceptions:

  • The Miscellaneous Award still lists an exclusion for ‘managerial employees’. Given the highest classification under the Miscellaneous Award is someone with ‘advanced trade qualifications’, the Award is unlikely to extend to an employee who requires a degree-level qualification to perform their role; and
  • The Miscellaneous Award still indicates that it does not apply to ‘professional employees such as accountants and finance, marketing, legal, human resources, public relations and IT specialists’.


Specific examples were provided by the Fair Work Commission, who referenced a cleaner not covered by the Cleaning Services Award (because the Award has limited coverage to employers who carry out cleaning under a contract with another business) and a security guard not covered by the Security Services Industry Award (because coverage of that Award is limited to employers who carry out security under a contract with another business).

Previously, a cleaner employed by a business covered by (for example) the Real Estate Industry Award (which has no coverage for cleaners), or a security guard employed by (for example) and employer covered by the Building and Construction General (On-Site) Award (which has no coverage for security guards) could not be covered by the Miscellaneous Award. However, as at 1 July 2020, such employees now WILL be covered by the Miscellaneous Award.

It is important to review your employees and assess whether or not they might now come under the umbrella of the Miscellaneous Award. If they do, you will need to ensure you are complying with the terms of that Award, such as minimum wages, overtime, penalty rates and other provisions as stated in the Award.

If you are unsure, or your require any advice regarding any of the Fair Work Modern Awards, please contact our employment team for a friendly chat.

Francine Clancy
Senior Associate