The Fair Work Commission (FWC) is currently reviewing the Pharmacy Industry Award 2010 (Pharmacy Award), as part of its compulsory four-yearly review of all Modern Awards. The Modern Award review process is required by the Fair Work Act and is run in two parallel phases. The first aims to resolve common issues considered to arise in relation to Modern Awards generally, such as annual leave and accident pay. The second involves the review of individual awards, which have been divided into groups.

As part of the review process, the FWC will undertake broad consultation on plain language drafting of standard clauses replicated across most awards (e.g. award flexibility, consultation, dispute resolution, termination of employment and redundancy) and ‘common clauses’ (such as machinery type provisions and simple leave provisions).

A plain language expert was commissioned by the FWC to redraft the Pharmacy Award. A revised exposure draft of the Pharmacy Award was published on 22 July 2016 (link). The plain-language re-drafts of standard clauses were published on 12 August 2016 (link). The FWC recently held a conference to discuss matters raised in submissions with respect to the revised exposure draft on 26 September 2016 and directed that a revised plain language draft and summary of submissions from interested parties would be published by 21 October 2016.

We await the revised draft. The matter will also be heard by the FWC on 25 November 2016. The FWC has indicated that consultation on plain language versions of common clauses will be undertaken in 2017. Another initiative is to produce an annotated version of each Modern Award, containing summaries of the relevant National Employment Standards and links to legislation.