Underpayment Claims, Pay Structures And Modern Award Interpretation

Modern Awards, along with the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth), govern minimum employment entitlements in Australia. Modern Awards are complicated and often difficult to understand. SWS advises clients on all aspects of the Modern Awards, including assisting with interpretation and compliance with the Modern Awards.

How we can help

  • Advising employers on underpayment claims, including in respect of leave entitlements and entitlements arising under Modern Awards
  • Reviewing pay structures and advising employers on compliance with Modern Awards
  • Advising employers on coverage and application of Modern Awards
  • Assisting employers in relation to obligations under Modern Awards


Underpayment claims are a common source of disputes in the employment space. In addition, there have been a number of high-profile matters in which the Fair Work Ombudsman has been successful in securing penalties against employers for underpaying employees. Many underpayment issues can go unnoticed over a period of years, which means the potential exposure for an employer can be significant. The Modern Awards are complex and easily misunderstood, and it is possible that employers can, despite having good intentions, still inadvertently underpay an employee by failing to adhere to the relevant Modern Award.

SWS Lawyers regularly assists our clients in reviewing their pay structures and provides advice in respect of the relevant Modern Award to ensure that their employees are being paid correctly and to reduce the risk of any underpayment claim.

In addition, SWS Lawyers advises our clients in respect of underpayment claims that may arise and can provide assistance with negotiations involving both employees and/or unions in respect of claims.

There are also many non-monetary obligations under the Modern Awards that are commonly overlooked. We can assist our clients in satisfying their obligations under the Modern Awards and avoid the risk of penalties and scrutiny from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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