Apprentice wages to increase

[ 25-Aug-2013 ]

Unders the law, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) is required to conduct a review of all modern awards after 1 January 2012.

A decision was handed down by the FWC on 22 August 2013.

The Full Bench decided that:

  • The minimum award rates of pay for the first and second year apprentices should be increased;
  • Special provisions should be made in relation to rates of pay and wage protection for adult apprentices;
  • Provisions should be made for competency based wage progression to be introduced into several modern awards;
  • Adjustments should be made in relation to apprenticeship conditions of employment including those relating to travel costs, training time, timely payment of training fees, and attendance at training; and
  • The model school-based apprentice schedule should be inserted into several modern awards which do not have it and the schedule in all modern awards should be varied to provide for competency based wage progression.

The main changes to modern awards will include the following:

(a)  Apprentice rates of pay

  • The Full Bench decided that the rate for a first year apprentice who has completed Year 12 schooling will be 55% of the C10 award rate (otherwise 50%), being $398.50 per week or $10.49 per hour.
  • The rate for a second year apprentice who has completed Year 12 schooling will be 65% (otherwise 60%).
  • A four year wage structure will result in many modern awards:
    • 55% (or 50%) of C10 rate.
    • 65% (or 60%) of C10 rate.
    • 75% of C10 rate.
    • 88% of C10 rate.

As an indication, the current adult C10 rate is $724.50/week or $19.07/hour.

(b)  Adult Apprentices

  • An adult apprentice is a person who is 21 or older.
  • Adult apprentices will now have their own rates introduced into modern awards. 
  • Minimum award rates for adult apprentices will be increased.
    • The rate for a first year adult apprentice will be 80% of the C10 rate.
    • The rate for a second year adult apprentice will receive the higher of the national minimum wage (currently $16.37/hour or $622.20/week) or the lowest adult classification rate in the award.
    • An employee who has worked full time for an employer for at least six months, or for 12 months as a part time or casual employee, before commencing an adult apprenticeship with the same employer, will not suffer a reduction in their minimum rate of pay. 

(c)  Competency based wage progression

  • Where an application has been made for a particular modern award for competency based wage progression, this will be introduced. 

(d)  Apprentice conditions of employment

  • Various provisions relating to conditions of employment of apprentices will be varied or inserted into awards:
    • Employer payment of apprentices’ excess travel costs for attendance at block release training at a distant location;
    • Timely reimbursement by employers in relation to training fees and textbooks;
    • Provisions that time spent by apprentices in off-the-job training and assessment is to be regarded as time worked for the purposes of wages, weekly ordinary hours, and leave entitlements.
    • Provisions that except in an emergency, apprentices cannot be required to work overtime or shiftwork if doing so would interfere with their attendance at training.

(e)  School-based apprentices

  • The model school based apprentices schedule will be inserted into several awards which do not have it.  The school based apprentices schedule will be varied to allow for competency based progression.

It is important to note that new rates of pay and adult apprentice rates will only apply to apprentices who commence their apprenticeship on or after 1 January 2014.

The variations dealing with apprentice conditions of employment will apply to all apprentices (regardless of commencement date) from 1 January 2014.


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