Overview of the Building and Construction Award 2020

construction area

As an employer in Australia’s construction industry, understanding the Building and Construction General On-Site Award [MA000020] is essential. 

This modern award sets out the minimum employment standards and entitlements for employees working on construction sites.

Non-compliance with the award can have severe consequences, including underpayment claims, penalties, and damage to your business’s reputation. Familiarising yourself with the award’s provisions ensures that your company remains compliant and that your employees receive their rightful entitlements.

 However, finding your way around the legalities can be challenging.

That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide – to break down the key sections of the award into clear and actionable explanations.

Who Does this Modern Award Cover?

The Building and Construction General On-site Award covers various employers and employees in Australia’s building, engineering, and civil construction industries. 

Types of Businesses Covered in the Building and Construction Industry 

The award applies to businesses engaged in the following types of construction work undertaken on-site:

General Building and Construction

  • Construction, alteration, extension, restoration, repair, demolition, or dismantling of buildings, structures, or works that form part of land.
  • Site clearance, earthmoving, excavation, site restoration, landscaping, and provision of car parks and access works associated with building projects.
  • Installation of fittings and services in buildings, structures, or works.

Civil Construction

  • Construction, repair, maintenance, or demolition of civil and mechanical engineering projects, power transmission towers, chemical plants, silos, and sports/entertainment complexes
  • Road making, application of bitumen/asphalt, and prefabrication of geomembranes
  • Dredging or sluicing work, batch plants, traffic management, and landscape gardening related to civil construction projects
  • Railways, tramways, roads, airports, drains, dams, bridges, tunnels, water and sewerage works

Metal and Engineering Construction

  • Metal trades work for the construction, fabrication, erection, and installation of power stations, oil refineries, chemical plants, and associated facilities.
  • Major industrial and commercial undertakings, including mineral processing plants, cement and lime works.
  • Transmission towers, lines, and associated plant facilities.
  • Lifts and escalators.
  • Maintenance, repair, and servicing work carried out on-site by contractors for metal and engineering construction projects.

Types of Employees Covered

The award covers a wide range of employees working in the building, engineering, and civil construction industries, including but not limited to:

  • Labourers and assistants
  • Machinery operators (forklifts, excavators, etc.)
  • Concrete workers
  • Scaffolders
  • Traffic controllers
  • Pool installers, repairers, and restorers
  • Tradespersons (bricklayers, carpenters, plasterers, painters, tilers, etc.) and their apprentices

It also covers labour hire businesses and group training services that supply workers to the on-site construction industry.

Employment Types in Construction

The Building and Construction General On-Site Award recognises four main types of employment arrangements: 

  1. Daily hire
  2. Full-time weekly hire
  3. Part-time weekly hire
  4. Casual hires. 

You must classify your employees correctly to ensure compliance with their entitlements and avoid potential underpayment claims.

Daily Hire Employees

Daily hire employees are tradespersons or labourers engaged on a day-to-day basis. 

Key points about daily hire employees and their engagement include the following: 

  • The employer or the employee must give one day’s notice of termination of employment. Alternatively, one day’s pay will be paid or forfeited instead of notice. 
  • If notice is given at or before the usual starting time of any ordinary working day, the notice period will expire after that day’s work. 
  • Tradespersons engaged as daily hire employees must be allowed one hour before termination to gather, clean, sharpen, pack and transport their tools. 
  • However, nothing in this clause affects the right of an employer to dismiss an employee without notice for misconduct or refusing duty.

Full-time Weekly Hire Employees

A full-time employee works an average of 38 ordinary hours per week. They are entitled to all the minimum entitlements under the award, including leave provisions.

Part-time Weekly Hire Employees

The award defines a part-time weekly hire employee as one who works an average of less than 38 ordinary hours per week and has reasonably predictable work hours. 

Some key points about their engagement include the following: 

  • A part-time employee must be paid no less than the ordinary hourly rate for the relevant classification for each ordinary hour worked. 
  • Part-time employees are also entitled to pro-rata leave entitlements based on their ordinary work hours. 
  • The employer must inform a part-time employee of their ordinary hours of work and the starting and finishing times for those hours. Before commencing a period of part-time employment, the employee and the employer must agree in writing on several terms. 
  • These terms include that the employee may work part-time, the specific hours to be worked by the employee, the days upon which those hours will be worked, the commencing times for the work, the classification applying to the work to be performed, and the period over which the part-time employment arrangement will apply. 
  • The terms of this written agreement or contract may be varied by consent between the employee and employer, which must also be recorded in

Casual Employees

Under the Award, casual employees are not entitled to certain benefits like annual leave, paid personal/carer’s leave, paid community service leave, notice of termination, and redundancy benefits. 

However, casual employees receive a casual loading of 25% on top of their ordinary hourly rate, which is paid as compensation for not receiving those entitlements and for public holidays not worked. 

The key provisions for casual employees are as follows:

  • When engaging a person for casual employment, an employer must inform the employee in writing that the employee is to be employed as a casual.
  • The written notice must state by whom the employee is employed, the job to be performed, the classification level, and the relevant pay rate.
  • A casual employee is entitled to payment for at least 4 hours of work per engagement.
  • In addition to the minimum 4-hour payment, casual employees must receive the relevant fares, travel allowances, and expenses prescribed by the award clauses for living away from home for distant work and travel time entitlements. On each occasion, they are required to attend work.
  • For working overtime or weekend work, a casual employee will be entitled to the relevant penalty rates prescribed by the overtime and penalty rates clauses of the award, which you can find under the “Overtime and Penalty Rates” section of this blog.

Offers and Requests for Casual Conversion

The award has specific provisions around casual employees requesting conversion to permanent employment after a qualifying period.

Requests for Casual Conversion

A casual employee who has worked on a regular pattern of hours for at least 12 months can request in writing to convert to permanent employment (full-time or part-time).

The employer must provide a copy of the casual conversion provisions to all casual employees within the first 12 months of their employment.

Upon receiving a valid request, the employer must provide a written response within 21 days, either granting the conversion request or refusing the request on reasonable grounds after consulting the employee.

Reasonable grounds include:

  • The conversion would require a significant adjustment to the employee’s hours to accommodate their permanent employment
  • The employee’s position will cease to exist in the next 12 months
  • There are likely to be significant changes to the employee’s hours of work due to operational requirements
  • Granting the request would not comply with a recruitment or transfer arrangement associated with job security obligations.

If the request is refused, the employer must provide reasons in writing. The employee can re-apply when they have worked a further 6 months on a regular basis.

Offers of Casual Conversion

Employers are also required to make offers for casual conversion to eligible employees every 12 months. Casual employees are eligible if, over the preceding 6 months, they have worked a regular pattern of hours that could continue as a full-time or part-time employee without significant adjustment.

Employers must provide all casual employees with a copy of the casual conversion provisions within their first 12 months of employment.


The Construction Award also covers apprentices in the industry. As an employer, there are specific requirements when engaging apprentices:


Apprentices must be paid the relevant percentage of the tradesperson’s rate for their year of the apprenticeship, as outlined in the award. For example:

  • 1st year: 55% of tradesperson’s rate
  • 2nd year: 65% of tradesperson’s rate
  • 3rd year: 75% of tradesperson’s rate
  • 4th year: 88% of tradesperson’s rate

In addition to the percentage rate, apprentices are entitled to any applicable allowances and tool allowances prescribed by the award.

Hours of Work

Apprentices are subject to the same ordinary hours of work, shiftwork, overtime, and penalty rate provisions as other employees under the award.

Leave Entitlements

Apprentices accrue leave entitlements (e.g. annual leave, personal/carer’s leave) on a pro-rata basis in the same proportion as the percentage they are paid relative to the tradesperson’s rate.

Training Fees

The employer must reimburse all training fees for prescribed courses and the cost of prescribed textbooks within 6 months of commencing the apprenticeship or becoming entitled to the fees/textbooks.

Notice of Termination

Both the employer and apprentice must provide notice of termination as specified in the award based on the apprentice’s length of service.

Ordinary Hours of Work and Rostering Arrangements

The Building Award sets out clear provisions for ordinary work hours and rostering arrangements to ensure employees receive proper work-life balance and employers remain compliant. They include the following: 

Ordinary Hours

The ordinary working hours under the award are 38 per week, averaged over a 20-day, 4-week cycle to allow for rostered days off (RDOs). These ordinary hours are worked between 7 am and 6 pm, Monday through Friday, except for shiftwork provisions.

Part-time Employees

  • The daily ordinary hours for part-time employees cannot exceed 8 hours.
  • Part-time employees may be paid for hours worked only, in which case they do not accrue time towards RDOs.
  • Alternatively, the employer and employee can agree that the part-timer accrues pro-rata entitlements to RDOs.

Casual Employees

The daily ordinary hours for casual employees cannot exceed 8 hours.

Rostered Days Off (RDO)

AccrualTaking RDOsBanking RDOs
7.6 hours accrue towards an RDO for every 19 days of ordinary hours worked0.4 hours accrue for each public holiday where the employee is not required to work and for each day of paid leave taken (excluding RDOs).One RDO day in the 4-week cycle when all employees take it per a written roster issued 7 days priorRDOs on different days during the cycle per a written roster issued 7 days priorBy any other method agreed in writing between the employer and majority of employees.Employee and employers can agree to bank up to 5 accrued RDOs instead of taking themFor banked RDOs, the employee works on rostered RDO day and takes banked RDO later by agreementEmployer must keep records of banked RDOs and when taken.

Other Conditions

  • The working day may start at 6 a.m. or anytime between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., with working time beginning at the agreed start time and meal breaks adjusted accordingly. If requested, this change requires agreement between the employer and employees (and their representatives).
  • The employer must provide sufficient washing facilities, and 5 minutes will be allowed before lunch and finishing time to enable employees to wash and put away gear.
  • The working hours of employees working in compressed air or underground shall be subject to any applicable safety standards relating to such work environments.

Shiftwork Provisions 

The building and construction industry often requires work to be carried out around the clock or at non-standard hours to meet project timelines and deadlines. 

As such, the Building and Construction General On-Site Award accounts for shiftwork arrangements across the general building, metal/engineering, and civil construction sectors. 

Depending on the specific sector, the following shiftwork provisions apply. 

General Building, Construction and Metal/Engineering Sectors

Shift TypeDefinition
Afternoon ShiftStarting at or after 1 pm and before 3 pm
Night ShiftStarting at or after 3 pm and before 11 pm
Early Morning ShiftCommencing at or after 11 pm and before 4:30 am
Morning ShiftStarting at or after 4:30 am and before 6 am
Early Afternoon ShiftStarting on or after 11 am and before 1 pm
Shift Rates
  • When employed continuously (inclusive of public holidays) for 5 shifts Monday to Friday:
  • Afternoon, night and early morning shifts – 150% of ordinary hourly rate
  • Morning and early afternoon shifts – 125% of ordinary hourly rate
  • Where the job finishes after more than 5 consecutive shift days or employment terminates mid-week, the employee is paid at the above rates for the time worked.
  • For broken shifts (less than 38 ordinary hours over 5 consecutive Mon-Fri shifts), rates are 150% for the first 2 hours and 200% after that.
Hours and Other Provisions
  • Ordinary hours for shifts are 8 hours daily, inclusive of meal breaks.
  • For 3 continuous 8-hour daily shifts, 24 minutes each accrues towards a rostered off shift with a paid 20-minute crib break instead of other rest periods.
  • At least 48 hours’ notice is required for shiftwork.
  • Fixed shift hours cannot be altered except for breakdowns or causes beyond the employer’s control, with notice given by the previous shift’s end time.
  • Normal weekend overtime rates apply for work on Saturdays/Sundays, except an ordinary night shift starting before and extending beyond midnight Friday is considered a Friday shift.
  • Work in excess of shift hours Monday-Friday (excluding holidays) is paid at 200% of ordinary hourly rate.
  • Award provisions on hours, leave, etc., apply to shift workers.

Civil Construction Sector

Day ShiftAny shift starting on or after 6 am and before 10 am
Afternoon ShiftAny shift starting at or after 10 am and before 8 pm
Night ShiftAny shift starting at or after 8 pm and before 6 am
Shift Rates
  • Overtime at 200% for working rostered off shift or unrostered overtime.
  • 115% loading for afternoon/night shift, except Saturdays/Sundays/holidays.
  • 150% loading for shifts between midnight Friday and midnight Saturday, inclusive of accrual time.
  • Sunday/public holiday penalties apply as per the award.
  • 5 or more successive afternoon/night shifts paid at 150% ordinary rate.
  • Permanent night shift conditions and 130% loading apply in certain circumstances.
  • 3-hour minimum at 200% for call-outs after shift or on rostered off days.
  • Transport will be provided if no reasonable means are available post-overtime.
Hours and Other Provisions
  • Shifts are worked per a roster (providing rotation) unless all employees agree otherwise.
  • No more than 8 shifts in any 9 consecutive days.
  • The roster specifies the starting and finishing times of each shift.
  • Ordinary hours for shift workers average 38 per week over a 2, 3 or 4-week cycle.
  • Each shift consists of up to 8 consecutive hours, with a 30-minute paid crib break counted as time worked.
  • 24 minutes of each 8-hour shift worked accrues entitlement to rostered off shift after 19 shifts.
  • Rostered off shifts paid as if worked.
  • Paid leave/public holidays are regarded as shifts worked for accrual purposes.
  • Employer and employees agree in writing on arrangements for taking/accumulating up to 5 rostered off shifts.
  • When taken, rostered off shifts are regarded as worked for accrual in that cycle.

Meal Breaks

Taking regular breaks is essential for maintaining productivity and well-being on construction sites. The construction award outlines specific meal breaks and rest periods provisions to ensure employees have adequate time to recharge.

Day Workers

  • Employees must have a meal break of at least 30 minutes between 12 pm and 1 pm or as agreed upon by the employer and most employees.
  • Employees cannot be required to work more than 5 hours without a meal break.
  • In some instances, the meal break can be extended to 45 minutes with an adjustment to the daily finishing time if most on-site employees agree.


Shiftworkers must have a 30-minute paid meal break within 5 hours of starting a shift, which counts as time worked.

Rest Periods and Crib Time

  • A paid 10-minute rest period must be provided between 9 am and 11 am.
  • When working 2 hours or more overtime after the usual finishing time, employees are entitled to a 20-minute paid crib time immediately after finishing and an additional 30-minute paid crib time after every 4 hours of continuous work.
  • If an employee continues working without taking the 20-minute crib time after their usual finishing time, they will be paid for an additional 20 minutes.
  • For shiftwork consisting of three consecutive 8-hour shifts, a 20-minute paid crib time must be allowed in each shift instead of other rest periods.

Special Provisions

  • When working with toxic materials, employees are entitled to a 10-minute washing time before and after their meal break, which counts as time worked.
  • Shaft or trench sinkers, timber-persons working at depths over 1.8 metres, and employees driving tunnels or engaged in similar work are entitled to a daily 30-minute paid crib time.
  • Employees working in artificially heated environments above 46 °C are entitled to a 20-minute rest period after every 2 hours of work, without loss of pay.
  • Employees working in artificially cooled environments below 0 °C are entitled to a 20-minute rest period after every 2 hours of work, without loss of pay.

Construction Award Pay Rates 

Employers must pay their employees under the Building and Construction Award at least the pay rates and entitlements contained in the award, either weekly or fortnightly, depending on their pay period cycle. 

The Fair Work website has various tools and resources to help you calculate your minimum wage. 

Alternatively, you can access the pay guide summaries containing information about pay rates, penalties and allowances. 

However, note that these pay rates are adjusted annually per the national minimum wage. Therefore, you need to use the applicable pay guide summary when determining the applicable pay rates. 

Superannuation Guarantee

All employers must pay a superannuation guarantee on behalf of their employees. The current rate is 11% of an employee’s ordinary earnings for the 2023–24 financial year. 

Note: It will increase by 0.5% on July 1, 2024 and 2025, until it reaches 12%. 


Employees in the building and construction industry may be entitled to various allowances on top of their base wage rate. Allowances are designed to compensate workers for expenses they incur or challenging working conditions they face while performing their duties. 

These additional payments are usually calculated as a percentage of the employee’s wage and are subject to annual adjustments in accordance with wage increases.

The Building and Construction General On-Site Award outlines several types of allowances that employers must provide to eligible employees. 

These allowances can be categorised into expense-related allowances, industry allowances, and other allowances, each serving a specific purpose:

Tool AllowancePayment for maintaining and providing standard tools. The employer must either provide the necessary tools or reimburse the employee if agreed.
Meal AllowancePayment for meals is required when working at least 1.5 hours of overtime or every 4 hours of continued overtime unless meals are provided or the employee is on a distant job allowance.
Compensation for Clothes and ToolsReimbursement for clothes, glasses, hearing aids, or tools damaged by work substances, fire, or theft.
General Industry AllowanceAdditional weekly payment is required for work in the general building, civil construction, and metal/engineering sectors.
Residential Industry AllowanceAdditional weekly payment for work in residential building and construction.
Underground AllowanceExtra payment for working underground is higher if working more than 4 days a week or deeper than 6 metres.
Multistorey AllowancePayment for working on buildings with 5 or more floors, which increases with the building height. For buildings over 15 metres without floors, an extra hourly rate applies.
Laser Operation AllowancePayment for using laser equipment, with an additional allowance for a designated Laser Safety Officer.
Carpenter-Diver AllowanceExtra hourly payment for work normally done by a carpenter-diver.
First Aid AllowancePayment is given to employees appointed to perform first aid duties and hold a recognised first aid qualification.
Air-conditioning/Refrigeration AllowanceExtra weekly payment for on-site air-conditioning or refrigeration work.
Electrician’s Licence AllowanceWeekly payment is required to hold an appropriate electrician’s licence specific to the state or territory.
In Charge of Plant AllowanceAdditional weekly payment for employees responsible for overseeing plant operations.
Computing Quantities AllowancePayment for employees who regularly calculate material quantities.
Scaffolding/Rigging Certificate AllowanceExtra hourly payment is required for tradespersons who use their scaffolding or rigging certificates.

Inclement Weather Provisions 

The Building and Construction General On-Site Award provides specific provisions for dealing with inclement weather conditions on construction sites. These provisions ensure the safety and well-being of employees while also outlining the procedures to be followed during inclement weather.

Inclement weather is defined as rain or abnormal climatic conditions, such as hail, extreme cold, high winds, severe dust storms, extremely high temperatures, or a combination of these conditions, where it is not reasonable or safe for employees to continue working.

When inclement weather occurs, the employer or their representative must confer with the employees or their representatives within a reasonable time (not exceeding 60 minutes) to determine whether the conditions warrant stopping work.

Employees are not required to start or continue work if it is deemed unreasonable or unsafe to continue working due to inclement weather. However, in cases of emergency work or the need to complete a concrete pour already in progress, work may continue as long as it does not pose an imminent risk to the employees’ health or safety.

During a concrete pour completed in inclement weather conditions, employees will be paid at 200% of their ordinary hourly rate (calculated to the next hour) and provided with adequate wet weather gear. If an employee’s clothes become wet, they will be allowed to go home for the remainder of the day without loss of pay, unless they have a change of dry working clothes available.

Employees who are unable to perform any work due to inclement weather will receive payment at their ordinary hourly rate for ordinary hours, subject to a maximum of 32 hours’ pay in any four weeks. This payment is subject to adherence to the terms of the inclement weather clause.

Part-time employees are entitled to payment on a pro-rata basis according to the number of ordinary hours agreed to be worked in the four weeks.

Inclement weather occurring during overtime will not be considered for payment purposes, and employees will not be entitled to payment for stoppages due to inclement weather outside of ordinary hours.

Employees on a portion of a site not affected by inclement weather must continue to work, even if employees on other areas of the site have stopped work due to inclement weather.

Employers may require employees to transfer to another area on the same site or to another site where it is reasonable and safe to work, provided that necessary transportation is provided.

The award also outlines additional wet weather procedures to provide guidance on how to handle situations where employees are prevented from working due to wet weather conditions. 

These procedures cover the following scenarios:

Remaining On-Site During Wet Weather 

  • If employees are prevented from working for more than 4 accumulated hours of ordinary time in a day due to wet weather
  • If employees are prevented from working after the meal break for more than 50% of the normal afternoon work time due to wet weather
  • If employees are prevented from working during the final 2 hours of the normal work day for more than 1 accumulated hour due to wet weather

In any of the above circumstances, the employer is not entitled to require the employees to remain on site beyond the expiration of those time periods.

However, if there is an agreement between the employer and employees to remain on site beyond those periods, any additional wet time will be paid, but it will not be debited against the employees’ inclement weather hours.

Rain at Starting Times, Morning Tea, or Lunch Times

If it is raining at the start of the shift, morning tea, or lunchtime and employees are in the sheds because they have been rained off, they will not be required to go to work in a dry area or be transferred to another site unless:

  • The rain stops
  • A covered walkway has been provided
  • The sheds are undercover, and employees can get to the dry area without going through the rain
  • Adequate protection is provided

Where necessary, appropriate protection must be provided for the employees’ tools when walking through inclement areas.

Living Away From Home -Distant Work

When an employee is employed on construction work at a distance from their usual residence, such that they cannot reasonably return home each night, they may be entitled to certain benefits under the award. 

These entitlements apply provided the employee is not receiving relocation benefits, is maintaining a separate residence they cannot reasonably return to each night, and has provided their correct residential address details to the employer.

The award outlines the following entitlements and allowances for employees living away from home for distant work:

QualificationIt applies to employees working far from home, making it unreasonable to return each night. This does not apply if the employee is receiving relocation benefits.
Employee’s AddressEmployees must provide their address at the time of application and any other residence maintained. Employers must verify address details. There are no entitlements if fraudulent addresses are provided.
EntitlementIf qualifying, the employer must either pay an allowance per day or fully reimburse for accommodation and meals or provide accommodation and meals. Camps must meet contemporary living standards.
Reimbursement for Living in CampIf meals can’t be provided, the employer reimburses food costs and pays per day for camp stays, provided the employee is available for work.
Camp ConditionsCamps must be clean and hygienic. If employees live in their own caravans, the employer must provide space.
Travelling ExpensesEmployees travelling to a distant job get transport or fare reimbursement, travel time pay (up to 8 hours per day), and meal allowances. Return journey payments are provided similarly.
Forward JourneyThe employer provides transport or a fare, pays for travel time up to 8 hours/day, and covers meal costs while travelling. Deductions apply if the employee quits within 2 weeks.
Return JourneySame entitlements as forward journey, plus $25.31 for transport from terminal to home. It is not applicable if the employee quits within 2 months or is dismissed for incompetence/misconduct.
Travelling Time CalculationsTravel time is calculated from the nearest central or regional transport terminal to the work location.
Daily Fares AllowanceEmployees who reside away from the site and are not provided with transport get a daily fare allowance.
Weekend Return HomeEmployees returning home for the weekend get $42.89 per occasion, provided they notify the employer by Tuesday and do not miss any work hours. Not applicable if receiving certain allowances.
Rest and RecreationAfter every 4 weeks of distance work, employees get 7 days of unpaid rest and recreational leave at home. After 12 weeks, they get 2 paid days and additional paid days for every 12 weeks. Travel expenses are reimbursed.
Rest and Recreation LeaveEmployees get 7 days of unpaid leave every 4 weeks of distant work, of which 5 days are exclusive of travel. Travel expenses are covered.
Additional Paid LeaveAfter 12 weeks of work, employees get 2 paid rest days and 1 additional day for each subsequent 12 weeks.
Payment for Leave and TravelPayments are made after the first pay period after the return.
Continuation of WorkLeave provisions don’t apply if the job will end within 28 days after the last leave period.
Continuous ServiceService is continuous even if the employee is absent for prescribed reasons.
Variable Return HomeEmployees and employers can agree to alter return home dates without changing leave entitlements.
No Payment InsteadEmployees must use leave and travel entitlements; there are no cash alternatives.
Alternative Paid Day OffAccrued RDOs can be taken with rest and recreation leave if agreed.
Termination of EmploymentNotice of termination should allow arranging transport or pay until the last workday before transport is available.

Travelling Time Entitlements

The award outlines various entitlements and allowances for employees who are required to travel for work purposes. These provisions aim to compensate employees for travel costs and time between construction sites or for distant work.

Fares and Travel Pattern Allowance

Employees are entitled to a daily allowance for each day worked when they start and finish work on a construction site or are required to perform prefabricated work in an open yard and then erect or fix on-site.

This allowance is not payable if the employer provides free transport from the employee’s home to the worksite and back or if the employer provides a fully maintained vehicle free of charge to the employee.

Travelling Between Construction Sites

Employees who are transferred from one construction site to another during working hours must be paid for the time spent travelling.

If the employer does not provide transport, the employee must be reimbursed for either the reasonable cost of public transport fares between sites or paid a per-kilometre allowance if using their own vehicle.

Travelling Outside Ordinary Hours

Time spent travelling from an employee’s home to their job and back outside ordinary working hours is generally unpaid unless the employer directs the employee to pick up and return other employees to their homes.

Distant Work Payment

If an employee is required to travel to a construction site that is not located in the metropolitan radial area of their usual place of residence and is a significant distance away, they are entitled to a distant work payment instead of the fares and travel pattern allowance.

The distant work payment includes payment for the time reasonably spent in travel outside ordinary working hours, paid at the ordinary hourly rate (with a minimum payment per day for each return journey), and reimbursement of a per-kilometre rate if the employee uses their own vehicle.

The distant work payment is not payable if, at the commencement of employment, the employee’s usual residence was already a significant distance from the construction site.


Apprentices are entitled to a proportion of the fares and travel pattern allowance and the distant work payment based on their year of apprenticeship (with a higher percentage for later years).

Apprentices are not paid these allowances for days they attend a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) for training and assessment.

School-based apprentices receive a percentage of the fares and travel pattern allowance when attending off-the-job training or assessment outside of their enrolled school.

Overtime and Penalty Rates 


Overtime provisions outline the circumstances under which employees may be required to work reasonable overtime hours and the associated compensation.

Reasonable Overtime

The award recognises that employers may require employees to work reasonable overtime hours at overtime rates, subject to certain considerations. Factors that determine whether overtime hours are reasonable or unreasonable include:

  • Risks to employee health and safety
  • Employee’s personal circumstances, including family responsibilities
  • Needs of the workplace or enterprise
  • Whether the employee is entitled to overtime payments or other compensation for additional hours
  • Notice provided by the employer or employee regarding the overtime requirement
  • Usual patterns of work in the industry
  • Nature of the employee’s role and level of responsibility
  • Any other relevant matters

Employees under the age of 18 and trainees (except in emergencies) cannot be required to work overtime or shiftwork if it would prevent their attendance at a Registered Training Organisation.

Other Overtime Provisions 

Payment for Working OvertimeAll time worked beyond ordinary hours (including time worked for accrual purposes) Monday to Friday must be paid at 150% of the ordinary rate for the first 2 hours and 200% thereafter. Casual employees must be paid the same rate with the addition of the 25% loading rate (i.e., 175% for the first 2 hours and 225% thereafter).
Recall to Work OvertimeAn employee recalled to work overtime after leaving the premises must be paid for at least 3 hours at the appropriate rate. If the job is completed in less than 3 hours, the full 3 hours will not be worked unless unforeseen circumstances arise. This only applies if it is customary to return or if the overtime is continuous with the ordinary work time.
Work During Meal Break—Day WorkersIf required to work during the prescribed meal break, employees must be paid at 200% of the ordinary rate until a substituted meal break is provided. If the meal break is shortened at the employee’s request to a minimum of 30 minutes, the employer pays the ordinary rate for that time, which is part of the ordinary working day.
Transport After OvertimeIf an employee finishes work when reasonable transport is unavailable after working overtime or an unscheduled shift, the employer must provide or pay for transport to the employee’s home or nearest public transport. This applies to work on a holiday as well.
Consecutive Hours Off DutyIf an employee works overtime such that they do not have at least 10 consecutive hours off duty before starting the next shift, they must be released until they have 10 hours off without loss of pay for ordinary working hours during the absence. 
This applies to work on holidays too. Employees who have worked continuously for 20 hours must not continue or start work for at least 12 hours. 
If required to resume work without 10 consecutive hours off, they must be paid at 200% of the ordinary rate until they are released for 10 hours. For shift workers, 8 hours is substituted for 10 hours when changing shift rosters, replacing absent shift workers, or working shifts by arrangement.
Holiday Work PaymentAll work on holidays prescribed by the NES or substituted days must be paid at 250% of the ordinary rate.
Minimum Holiday Work HoursEmployees required to work on a holiday must be given at least 4 hours of work or be paid for 4 hours at the appropriate rate.
Continuous Shift on Part-Day HolidayHours worked immediately before or after a part-day holiday as part of one continuous shift count towards the minimum payment/engagement period.
Saturday and Sunday WorkAll work performed on a Saturday or Sunday will be paid according to the penalty rates below. 

Penalty Rates

Penalty rates are additional payments made to employees for working outside of ordinary hours, such as on weekends and public holidays. These rates compensate employees for the inconvenience of working during times that are typically reserved for rest and leisure.

The Building and Construction General On-Site Award outlines the following penalty rates:

Overtime on Saturday150% of the ordinary hourly rate for the first 2 hours, 200% thereafter
Overtime after 12 noon on Saturday200% of the ordinary hourly rate
Work on Saturday following Good Friday250% of the ordinary hourly rate
Work on Sundays200% of the ordinary hourly rate
Work on Public Holidays250% of the ordinary hourly rate
Casual Employee Overtime/Weekend Work175% of the ordinary hourly rate for the first 2 hours, 225% thereafter

Minimum Engagement

  • Employees required to work overtime on a Saturday must be afforded at least 3 hours of work or paid for 3 hours at the appropriate rate.
  • Employees required to work on the Saturday following Good Friday must be afforded at least 4 hours of work or paid for 4 hours at the appropriate rate.
  • Employees required to work overtime on a Sunday must be afforded at least 4 hours of work or paid for 4 hours at the appropriate rate.
  • Work performed on public holidays or substituted days is subject to a minimum payment for 4 hours of work.

Paid Rest Periods and Crib Time

  • Employees working overtime on Saturday or Sunday must be allowed a paid 10-minute rest period between 9 am and 11 am.
  • Employees working overtime on Saturday or working on Sunday must be allowed a paid 20-minute crib time after 4 hours of work, with the option to extend it to a 30-minute unpaid meal period.
  • If an employee works more than an additional 4 hours after the initial crib time, they must be allowed a paid 30-minute crib time.

Annual Leave

Annual leave provisions for most modern awards, including the Building and Construction Award, are provided in the National Employment Standards (NES).

However, there are additional entitlements, as follows:

  • Employees who are required to work shifts that include weekends are entitled to an additional week of annual leave.
  • When taking annual leave, employees receive an annual leave loading of 17.5% of their minimum weekly rate, based on a maximum of 4 weeks of annual leave.
  • Shift workers under the award who take annual leave will receive the higher of the 17.5% annual leave loading or the weekend and shift penalties they would have received if they hadn’t been on leave.

What Alternative Annual Leave Arrangements Can an Employee Request?

  • Leave in advance: An employee can take paid annual leave before it has accrued if agreed upon in writing with the employer.
  • Cashing out annual leave: Employees may be able to cash out a portion of their accrued annual leave, as long as certain conditions are met and they retain at least four weeks of accrued annual leave.
  • Excessive leave accruals: If an employee has accrued more than eight weeks of paid annual leave (or ten weeks for shift workers), the employee and employer may agree for the employee to take some of the accrued leave to reduce the balance. 

Other Types of Leave

In addition to annual leave, employees in the building and construction industry may be entitled to various other types of leave:

Type of LeaveDescription
Personal/Carer’s LeaveProvides paid leave when an employee needs to take care of their own personal illness, injury or an unexpected emergency situation involving a family or household member.
Parental LeaveLeave related to the birth or adoption of a child, which can include maternity leave, paternity leave, adoption leave, or partner leave.
Long Service LeaveGranted to employees after a certain number of years of continuous service with the same employer, allowing them to take an extended period of time off work.
Family & Domestic Violence LeaveOffers paid leave to support employees experiencing situations of family and domestic violence, providing time off for legal matters, relocation, or other activities related to ensuring their safety.
Compassionate LeaveAvailable when an employee needs to take time off due to the death or life-threatening illness or injury of a close family member or member of their household.

Key Takeaways

While this guide has aimed to provide a comprehensive overview of the key provisions in the Building and Construction General On-Site Award, it’s important to recognise that fully understanding and interpreting the award’s complexities can be a challenging task. 

The award’s interaction with the National Employment Standards and relevant state and federal legislation adds another layer of intricacy.

As an employer in the building and construction industry, ensuring full compliance with the award’s requirements is crucial to avoid potential legal consequences and disputes. Non-compliance can not only result in financial penalties and workplace investigations, but also damage your reputation and employee relations.

If you find yourself unsure about your obligations or require further clarification on any aspect of the award, it’s advisable to seek professional guidance. At WilliamsonBarwick, our team of experienced employment lawyers specialises in the Building and Construction General On-Site Award and can provide tailored advice to help you navigate this legal landscape confidently.

We understand the unique challenges employers face in the building and construction industry, and our goal is to ensure that you not only meet your legal obligations but also foster a fair and respectful working environment for your employees.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to us today to discuss your specific needs and learn how we can support you in achieving full compliance.

Similar Posts