Interpreting the Manufacturing Award

woman in a manufacturing warehouse

The Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2020 [MA000010] (Manufacturing Award) is a key component of Australia’s industrial relations system, providing essential protections and entitlements to workers in the manufacturing sector and associated industries. 

The Manufacturing Award comprehensively covers wages, allowances, hours of work, overtime, shift arrangements, leave entitlements and more.

Complying with the Manufacturing Award is not just a legal obligation but a necessity for businesses to maintain fair and consistent employment practices. However, the Manufacturing Award’s complexity can make it challenging for employers to fully understand and adhere to all requirements, creating the risk of potential non-compliance and substantial penalties.

With this guide, we will provide you with a detailed overview of the Manufacturing Award, allowing you to grasp the key provisions and your obligations towards your employees. 

Who Does this Award Cover? 

The Manufacturing Award has broad coverage of employers and employees across the manufacturing sector and associated industries in Australia. It applies to employers throughout Australia who have employees working in manufacturing and associated industries and occupations covered by the award’s classifications. 

The Manufacturing Award’s scope extends to employers who supply labour on an on-hire basis within the manufacturing and associated industries and occupations (see below description). On-hire is where an employee works under the general guidance and instruction of the client or a representative of the client.  It also covers employers that provide group training services for apprentices and trainees engaged in these same industries and roles.

The ‘manufacturing and associated industries’ means:

Industries and Operations CoveredManufacturing, assembly, processing, repair, refurbishment, and maintenance of a wide range of products and materials in the table below.Coating, painting, varnishing, electroplating, and similar finishing processes. Mechanical and electrical engineering, space tracking, farriery (excluding racing), bottle merchants, and photo processing.Handling, sorting, packing and other warehouse functions, along with transport and distribution in connection with the above industries.
Products, Structures, Articles, Parts, and ComponentsAll products made from or containing steel, iron, metals, sheet metal, tin, brass, copper, and non-ferrous metals. Vehicles (cars, motorcycles, railway cars, etc.) and components. – industrial machinery, tools, saws, dies, gauges, and moulds. Electrical, electronic, telecommunications, lighting, radio, television, and X-ray products and devices. Household appliances (e.g. stoves, refrigerators, kitchenware, heaters), furniture, toys, sporting goods. Ships, boats, marine vessels, aircraft, locomotives, and their components.
Materials and SubstancesIndustrial gases, articles made from wire, insulation materials. – Plastics and rubber products, including synthetic resins, thermoplastics, and thermo-setting plastics. Melting and smelting of metals, clay and ceramic articles (bricks, tiles, pottery), jewellery, medical instruments, and optical instruments. – Chemicals, alkalis, paint, decorative or protective coatings, and adhesives of all descriptions. Leather, canvas, fibre products (saddles, harnesses, machine belting), flat glass, and fibreglass. Cork and cork products, upholstery and bedding, and flooring products not made from wood.
Chemicals and Other SubstancesArtificial fertilisers, fungicides, insecticides, vermin and weed destroyers. Abrasive wheels and stones, transmission cables, gelatine, glue, agar and by-products. Refractory materials include all types of tapes, including pressure-sensitive tapes. Non-food grocery products (candles, soap, boot polish, furniture polish, metal polish).

The particular occupations covered by the Manufacturing Award are:

  • Maintenance employees in the engineering streams
  • Technical workers
  • Draughtspersons
  • Production planners
  • Trainee engineers
  • Trainee scientists
  • Engine drivers

In situations where there is no clear classification for a particular employee under the Manufacturing Award, employers and employees should properly apply the ‘principal purpose test’ by considering the employee’s actual responsibilities and duties, to determine whether the employee is covered by the Manufacturing Award.  Further, it is important to carefully assess whether they may be covered by another modern award with more appropriate occupational coverage.

Who the Manufacturing Award doesn’t Cover

The Manufacturing Award does not apply to exempt employers and employees as follows:

  • plumbers (unless employed in businesses covered by this award)
  • the sugar industry (unless the work is carried out by certain contractors)
  • security personnel
  • gardeners
  • cleaners (unless the work is in certain factories covered by this award)
  • employees of a Rail Transport Operator, or on-site builders with regard to locomotives, rolling stock and railway lines
  • electrical contractors 
  • glaziers

Additionally, employers operating outside the scope of manufacturing and associated industries are generally not covered, unless they employ staff who are in occupations that are covered by the award and are not covered by another modern award with more appropriate classifications.

Types of Employment

Under the Manufacturing Award, employees must be either:

  • Full-time;
  • Part-time; or 
  • Casual. 
Full-Time EmployeesPart-Time EmployeesCasual Employees

Not specifically engaged as a part-time or casual employee, unless specified by the award.
Engaged to work a regular pattern of hours, averaging less than 38 ordinary hours per week, as per a written agreement.Engaged an ad-hoc or irregular basis, with no guaranteed hours or ongoing expectation of employment.

A part-time employee must work a minimum of 4 consecutive hours per shift. By agreement, this can be changed to no less than 3 consecutive hours. Before commencing employment, the employee and employer must agree in writing the hours to be worked by the part-time employee, including the days they will work, the starting and finishing times.

Casual employees are paid the ordinary hourly rate plus a 25% loading of the ordinary hourly rate. On each occasion a casual employee is required to attend work, the employee must be paid for a minimum of 4 consecutive hours’ work, but no less than 3 hours. In accordance with the NES, the award provides for offers and requests for conversion from casual employment to full-time or part-time employment.


This award applies to apprentices, including adult apprentices, unless stated otherwise. Apprentices may be engaged in trades or occupations where declared or recognised by an apprenticeship authority.

Apprenticeships are competency-based with a nominal period of 4 years. The actual time taken to complete an apprenticeship may be shortened or extended based on the training intensity, prior learning and competency progression. 

  1. Apprentices’ Conditions of Employment

Apprentices are subject to all conditions of employment in this award, with specific clauses for apprentices. Apprentices are entitled to be released from work, without loss of work and pay, to attend any training and assessment in the training contract. Time spent in training and assessment is regarded as work time for determining the apprentice’s wages and employment conditions.

The notice of termination provisions of the National Employment Standards (NES) applies to apprentices. However, the redundancy provisions of the NES do not apply to apprentices.

  1. Competency-based Wage Progression

An apprentice will be paid at the next stage rate if:

  1. Competency has been achieved for the stage of apprenticeship, consistent with any requirements in the training plan; and
  2. Any requirements of the relevant state or territory apprenticeship authority are met and any minimum necessary work experience are met; and
  3. Either:
    1. The RTO, the employer and the apprentice agreement that the abovementioned requirements have been met, or 
    2. The RTO has provided written advice to the employer that the apprentice has met all relevant units of competency, without any disagreement with the RTO’s assessment by the employer within 21 days of receipt of the advice.

If the employer has a dispute with the RTO’s assessment of the apprentice’s competency, it may be resolved firstly by agreement and if unsuccessful, through the award’s dispute resolution clause. 

  1. Employers must reimburse fees for prescribed courses and textbooks

Costs for prescribed courses and textbooks (unless available in the employer’s technical library) related to the training contract must be reimbursed to the apprentice within 6 months from apprenticeship commencement or relevant stage of the apprenticeship or within 3 months of starting training with a RTO, unless progress is unsatisfactory.

  1. Employers must pay excess reasonable travel costs for block release training

Employers must pay excess reasonable travel costs for apprentices attending block release training requiring an overnight stay, unless an alternate RTO is available and not used by agreement. 

Excess reasonable travel costs include transportation (and tools if required), accommodation while travelling, and reasonable travel expenses like meals, excluding travel time and non-travel expenses. 

The amount payable may be reduced by government apprentice assistance scheme amounts if the apprentice received such assistance or was advised of its availability.

  1. Extending the nominal term for absences

The nominal period of apprenticeship is extended by an additional day for each day of absence during the apprenticeship year, except for absences due to annual leave or long service leave. Also, paid personal/carer’s leave which total ten or less days do not extend the nominal period of apprenticeship.

Apprentices must work additional days for each absence to progress to the next apprenticeship stage, unless competency requirements are met. Any work in excess of ordinary hours is credited towards the additional time required to be worked in the relevant year.

School-based Apprentices

A school-based apprentice is a person who undertakes a state or territory approved apprenticeship while also completing secondary education. The maximum duration of the training contract is 6 years. Minimum rates for full-time junior and adult apprentices apply for all hours worked, including time spent off-the-job training. The off-the-job training refers to structured training delivered by a Registered Training Organisation, separate from normal work duties, and must be 25% of the actual hours worked each week for full-time school students. 

manufacturing team


A cadet is employed to complete the C3/V12 level training qualification and has no prior experience in the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations. The cadet must have achieved 50% of the modules required for the qualification as a full-time or part-time student before commencing employment.

Technology Cadets

A technology cadetship consists of 4 stages, with entry possible at any stage if requirements are met. Progression is competency-based.

The stages, entry and progression requirements and maximum duration for each stage of the Technology Cadetship are set out below:

Technology Cadet StageQualification Level (AQF)Progression RequirementMaximum DurationExtension Condition
Stage 13Beginning of contract of training12 monthsCan be extended to 18 months if progress is unsatisfactory
Stage 24Completed Stage 1 and progressed to Stage 21 yearCan be extended to 18 months if progress is unsatisfactory
Direct entry into Stage 22 yearsCan be extended to 2.5 years if progress is unsatisfactory
Stage 35Completed Stage 2 and progressed to Stage 31 yearCan be extended to 18 months if progress is unsatisfactory
Direct entry into Stage 33 yearsCan be extended to 3.5 years if progress is unsatisfactory
Stage 46Completed Stage 3 and progressed to Stage 41 yearCan be extended to 18 months if progress is unsatisfactory
Direct entry into Stage 44 yearsCan be extended to 4.5 years if progress is unsatisfactory

Key provisions for Technology Cadets include:

  • Training time: Over the period of the Technology Cadetship, a Technology Cadet will spend an average of at least 20% of their time in approved training.
  • Absences: If a Technology Cadet is absent for reasons other than annual leave, long service leave, paid bereavement leave or public holidays, they may be required to serve an additional day for each day of absence. Any overtime worked must be credited against these additional days required to make up for the absences. A person is not entitled to the wage rate for the next year within a stage of the Technology Cadetship until they have worked the additional days.
  • Overtime: A cadet may work reasonable overtime provided it does not affect the successful completion of the training and it is consistent with other award provisions.
  • Shiftwork: Technology Cadets do not work shiftwork unless the shiftwork makes satisfactory provision for approved training.
  • Probation: Technology Cadets are subject to a probation period of up to 3 months, which may be reduced at the employer’s discretion.
  • Failure to complete Technology Cadetship: A Technology Cadet who fails to complete the Technology Cadetship is not entitled to notice of termination or redundancy pay.
  • Termination: If, for any reason, an employer cannot place the Technology Cadetship in full-time employment after the successful completion of the cadetship, the employee is not entitled to notice of termination or redundancy pay.
  • If an employer terminates a Technology Cadet, who was employed immediately prior to becoming a Technology Cadet, they must receive notice of termination in accordance with the NES, or in the case of redundancy, notice of termination and redundancy pay.


This award applies to trainees who are covered by the National Training Wage provisions, trainees in the technical field, trainee engineers and trainee scientists.

A trainee in the technical field must be allowed reasonable time (up to 8 hours per week during school terms) to attend classes related to their certificate course.  For trainee engineers and scientists, the course of study and maximum class attendance must be agreed upon to limit interference with work. They are entitled to reasonable leave without loss of pay to sit for exams.

A trainee engineer or scientist is not obliged to work overtime when it interferes with studies, nor can they be placed on shiftwork except at their own request during academic vacations.

Unapprenticed juniors

The terms of this award apply to unapprenticed juniors except where otherwise stated.

Ordinary Hours of Work under the Manufacturing Award

The ordinary hours of work must be in accordance with the NES, which is a maximum weekly hours of 38 hours per week for full-time employees. 

Day Workers

The ordinary hours for day workers cannot exceed 8 hours per day unless otherwise agreed with their employer. The ordinary hours are an average of 38 hours per week but not exceeding 152 hours in 28 days.

For day workers, the ordinary hours must be worked continuously (except for meal breaks) between 6am and 6pm. Note this spread of hours can be moved up to one hour forward or one hour back by agreement with the employer and a majority of employees, a workplace section or an individual employee.

While ordinary hours are typically worked Monday to Friday, they can also be worked on Saturdays and Sundays subject to agreement. If this occurs, day workers must be paid weekend penalty rates of 150% for Saturdays and 200% for Sundays.

If a day worker is required to work on a public holiday, they must be paid a minimum of 3 hours’ work at 250% of their ordinary hourly rate until relieved from duty.

Continuous Shiftworkers

Continuous shiftwork means consecutive shifts of employees throughout the 24 hours for at least 6 consecutive days. 

The ordinary hours are an average of 38 hours per week, including meal breaks, and must not exceed 152 hours in 28 consecutive days. However, the employer and a majority of employees may agree to roster shifts that have a weekly average of 38 hours over more than 28 days but less than 12 months. For example, employees may work an average of 38 hours per week over 2 months.

Unless agreed otherwise, the maximum ordinary hours are 8 hours per shift. An employee cannot be required to work more than one shift in 24 hours, except at the regular changeover of shifts.

Continuous shiftworkers are entitled to a paid 20-minute meal break on each shift which must be counted as time worked.

Non-continuous Shiftworkers

Like continuous shiftworkers, non-continuous shiftworkers work an average of 38 hours per week over 28 days, or up to 12 months if agreed upon. Their maximum ordinary hours are 8 per shift unless agreed otherwise.

Non-continuous shiftworkers must work their ordinary hours continuously at the employer’s discretion, except for meal breaks. They also cannot be required to work more than one shift in 24 hours, except at changeovers.

How can Employers arrange Ordinary Working Hours?

Any change regular rosters or ordinary hours of work is subject to the consultation.

Agreement between employers and a majority of employees, workplace section or an individual employee can be reached upon:

  • How the hours are to be averaged within a work cycle (a work cycle does not exceed 3 months for day workers);
  • The starting and finishing times of rostered working hours;
  • Notice period of less than 4 weeks for a rostered day off;
  • Substituting, accumulating or having flexibility with rostered days off;
  • Working more than 8 ordinary hours in any day.

By agreement, 12-hour days or shifts can be introduced, subject to proper health monitoring, suitable rosters, supervision, breaks, and a trial and review process.

Arrangements for make-up time are possible if agreed upon, where employees take time off during ordinary hours and work those hours later.

For work spanning the start or end of daylight saving, employees are paid based on the time on the clock at the start and end of the work period.

manufacturing employees

Employees must receive Breaks

Ensuring employees have adequate breaks is essential for their health, safety and productivity.

Meal Breaks

An employee must not be required to work for more than 5 hours without an unpaid meal break of a minimum of 20 minutes except:

  • In cases where canteen or break facilities are limited, requiring meal breaks to be staggered, employees can work up to 6 hours before an unpaid break;
  • By agreement between the employer and an individual employee or majority of employees, the 5-hour period can be extended to 6 hours before a meal break is taken. In this case, the 6th hour worked must be paid at the employee’s ordinary hourly rate.

Paid Meal Breaks – Continuous Shiftworkers

Continuous shiftworkers are entitled to a paid 20-minute meal break during their shift.

Paid Rest Breaks 

Employers must allow a paid 10-minute morning tea rest period at a fixed time for employees working in technical fields of work, technical workers, tracers and draughts persons, production planners, trainee engineers and trainee scientists.

Timing of Breaks

While meal and rest breaks are scheduled, the employer can alter or stagger their timing if necessary to meet operational needs or maintain continuity of operations.

Working through Meal Breaks

In certain circumstances, employees may be instructed to work through their unpaid meal break, such as in the event of a plant breakdown or to perform routine maintenance that can only be done while the plant is idle.

Except where there is an alternative arrangement, an employee must be paid at the applicable rates for the time worked during the scheduled meal break and until an actual break is taken as follows:

During ordinary time from Monday to Friday150% of the ordinary hourly rate
During ordinary time on a Saturday or Sunday200% of the ordinary hourly rate
During ordinary time on a shift on which the employee is entitled to a 15% loading165% of the ordinary hourly rate
During ordinary time on a shift on which the employee is entitled a 30% loading180% of the ordinary hourly rate

These provisions of the award ensure employees have adequate breaks, yet it accommodates operational needs of employers while ensuring employees are fairly compensated for any missed breaks.

Ship trials

The Manufacturing Award has specific provisions to account for the unique nature of this work for employees in the technical field engaged in ship trials, whether docked at a wharf, in a harbour, or at sea. The time of trial duty is deemed to start when the employee is instructed to be on board the vessel and end when the employee is back on the shore.

The maximum number of continuous hours of work is 12 hours, with a 25% loading for time on duty when the vessel is at a wharf and 50% loading while the vessel is in harbour or at sea. The award provides for the timing of meal breaks (breakfast before 7.00am, lunch between 12 noon and 2.00pm and dinner after 6.00pm) and adequate meals must be provided for each shift.

What are the Minimum Pay Rates under the Manufacturing Award?

As an employer, you must ensure your employees are paid at least the minimum wage rates and entitlements outlined in the Manufacturing and Associated Industries Award 2020. These minimum pay rates apply to all employees covered by the award and must be paid weekly or fortnightly, depending on your payroll cycle.

The Fair Work Ombudsman provides useful online tools and resources to assist in calculating the correct wages for your manufacturing employees according to their classifications and entitlements under the award.

Alternatively, you can refer to the Manufacturing Award pay guide summaries, which summarise the minimum hourly rates, penalties, allowances, and other wage-related provisions. These summaries are in the right-hand column of the award viewer

However, keep in mind that the pay rate figures in these guides are updated annually in line with minimum wage adjustments. So, you must be sure to use the most current pay guide applicable to the specific period you are calculating wages for to ensure you remain compliant with the up-to-date minimum pay obligations under the award. 

Failing to meet these minimum pay standards can expose your business to underpayment claims and penalties.

If you need assistance interpreting the award’s wage provisions, it’s advisable to seek professional workplace advice.

Annualised Wage Arrangements

An employer may agree to pay an annualised wage to a full-time employee, who is Supervisor/Trainer/Coordinator Level I or II. An annualised wage is a fixed annual salary that is paid instead of the employee’s minimum award rates, penalties, allowances and loadings. This can provide income certainty for the employee and cost predictability for the employer.

However, the award sets strict rules around these annualised wage agreements. There must a written agreement that clearly specifies:

  • The annual wage amount to be paid
  • Which award entitlements the annualised wage is paid instead of (e.g. penalties, overtime, allowances)
  • A breakdown of how the annualised figure was calculated, including any assumptions around expected ordinary/overtime hours
  • The outer limits for ordinary hours and overtime hours that the annualised wage covers in each pay period

A key requirement is that the annualised wage does not disadvantage employees. The wage must be at least what the employee would have received over the year if paid their full award entitlements for the same work performed. 

Employers must annually calculate the amount the employee would have earned under the normal award provisions. If this works out to be higher than the annualised wage paid, the employer must top up the shortfall within 14 days. To enable this annual reconciliation, employers must keep accurate time records signed off by the employee each pay period. This includes start/finish times and any unpaid breaks taken.

If an employee works hours beyond the outer limits specified in the agreement during a pay period, the annualised wage cannot cover those additional hours. The employer must pay the employee separately for those excessive hours under the applicable award penalty or overtime rates.

Note: Either party can terminate an annualised wage agreement by providing 12 months’ written notice. The agreement can also be terminated at any time by mutual written consent.

What Allowances do Employees have under the Manufacturing Award?

Employees under the Manufacturing Award receive additional pay, in the form of allowances, for specific work responsibilities or expenses incurred in their role:

Type of AllowanceDescription
Leading hand allowancePaid to an employee who is appointed to be a leading hand, responsible for a specific number of employees each week.
Ship repairing allowancePaid to a tradesperson or employee engaged on ship repairs.
Tool allowancesPaid to tradespersons and apprentices to cover the cost of supplying and maintaining their tools. Specific allowances are also provided for carpenters, joiners, or shipwrights and boatbuilders.
Technical computing allowancePaid to technical employees required to use computing equipment for complex tasks, not including routine or repetitive functions.
Supervisor/Trainer/Coordinator – Technical allowancePaid to technical employees involved in supervision, training, or coordination, requiring the exercise of technical skills.
Artificial fertilizers and chemicals allowancePaid to employees handling artificial fertilisers, chemicals and all processes involving chemical synthesis.
Vehicle AllowancePaid to employees who agree to use their own vehicle for the employer’s business.
First Aid AllowancePaid to employees who are trained and appointed to perform first aid. 
Meal AllowancePaid under certain conditions when employees work overtime and are entitled to a meal break.
Protective clothing and Equipment allowanceFor the cost of purchasing special clothing and equipment required by law, unless provided by the employer.
Special ratesPaid to employees who work in cold, hot, wet or confined places, dirty work and work at heights.
Training costsCovers the reimbursement of costs associated with standard fees for prescribed courses and textbooks, as well as travel costs for training agreed to by the employer.

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 2023-4 financial year. 

The rate will continue to increase in 0.5% increments until it reaches 12% in 2025.

Overtime Rates 

Overtime work is any work performed outside of ordinary hours on any day or shift.

For part-time employees, overtime applies to hours beyond their agreed ordinary hours.

When calculating overtime rates, the ordinary hourly rate is determined by dividing the employee’s weekly rate by 38, regardless of how many ordinary hours they work that week.

Day workerNon-Continuous ShiftworkerContinuous Shiftworker
OvertimeFirst 3 hours: 150% of ordinary rateThereafter: 200% of ordinary rateFirst 3 hours: 150% of ordinary rateThereafter: 200% of ordinary rateAll hours: 200% of ordinary hourly rate(Except for vehicle manufacturing employees)
Saturday workFirst 3 hours: 150%Thereafter: 200% 
(Minimum payment of 4 hours applies.)
All hours: 150% of ordinary rateAll hours: 200% of ordinary rate
Sunday workAll hours: 200% of ordinary rate
(Minimum payment of 3 hours.)
All hours: 200% of ordinary rate
(Minimum payment of 3 hours.)
All hours: 200% of ordinary rate
(Minimum payment of 3 hours.)
Public holidayAll hours: 250% of ordinary rate
(Minimum payment of 3 hours.)
All hours: 250% of ordinary rate
(Minimum payment of 3 hours.)
All hours: 200% of ordinary rate
(Minimum payment of 3 hours.)

If a shiftworker works on a rostered day off due to absent relieving employee, they receive 200% of the ordinary hourly rate for those hours. 

Time off instead of payment for overtime

Employers may agree in writing to an employee taking time off, instead of being paid overtime worked by the employee. The agreement must record the employee’s request, identify the number of overtime hours worked and when those hours were worked. 

The time off must be taken within 6 months after the overtime hours are worked, and it must be taken at the time agreed between the employee and the employer. If time is not taken off within 6 months, the employer must pay the employee for the overtime.

If the employee changes their mind at any time, the employer must pay the overtime at the applicable rates in the next pay period following their request for payment.

Reasonable overtime

An employer may require an employee to work overtime hours if they are reasonable. Factors that must be considered include whether additional hours pose any risk to the employee’s health and safety, the employee’s personal circumstances such as family responsibilities, the workplace needs and usual patterns of industry work, the notice given to the employee and the employee’s seniority.

Rest breaks during Overtime

Employees are entitled to a 20-minute paid rest break after each 4 hours of overtime, if they continue working after the break.

For day workers working overtime on a weekend or public holiday or rostered day off, the first rest break must be paid at the ordinary hourly rate.

If overtime is worked immediately after completing the ordinary hours, and it is over 1.5 hours, an employee is entitled to a 20-minute paid rest break at the ordinary rate pay before starting overtime.

Rest periods after Overtime

Where practicable, overtime must be arranged to allow employees at least 10 consecutive hours off between finishing one shift and starting the next. Employees, other than casual employees, who work so much overtime so that they do not have at least 10 consecutive hours off duty between the ordinary hours of one day and the next day, must be released after completing overtime. They will continue to receive pay for ordinary hours occurring while absent.

Standing By

The Manufacturing Award includes a payment for standing by, where an employee is required to stand by and be ready to work after their ordinary hours. 

This payment does not apply if there’s a ‘custom prevailing’ for employees to stand by as a routine, regular and expected part of the work. 

Call back

Where an employee is called back to work after leaving, employees are paid for a call back for a minimum of 4 hours at overtime rates or for the full period for a continuous shiftworker.

This entitlement won’t apply if it is customary for an employee to return to work for a specific job outside ordinary hours. 

Transport after Overtime

When an employee finishes overtime and there is no reasonable means of transport available, the employer must provide transport home or pay them at the overtime rate for the time taken to get home.

manufacturing worker

Penalty Rates

Penalty rates are additional loadings or higher pay rates that employees receive for working outside of, or in less desirable conditions than, normal hours or circumstances.

The rationale behind penalty rates is to compensate employees for the inconvenience and impact on their work-life balance when they are required to work shifts, weekends, public holidays, or overtime hours beyond their regular schedule.

Under the Manufacturing Award, the following penalty rates apply:

Day Workers 

Between midnight on Friday and midnight on Saturday150% of the ordinary hourly rate
Between midnight on Saturday and midnight on Sunday 200% of the ordinary hourly rate
Public holidays250% of the ordinary hourly rate with a minimum payment for 3 hours


For employees working shift work, the Manufacturing Award specifies higher penalty rates to compensate for the inconvenient hours and impact on work-life balance.

Afternoon or Night Shift Workers

Those working typical afternoon or night shifts receive 115% of their ordinary hourly rate for all hours on that shift.

However, if an afternoon or night shift doesn’t meet certain duration requirements – either at least 5 consecutive afternoon/night shifts, or 6 in a 6-day workshop, or a total of 38 ordinary hours – then the employee is entitled to higher penalty rates. 

In these cases, they receive 150% of their ordinary rate for the first 3 hours, followed by 200% for any remaining hours on that shift.

Permanent Night Shifts

The award recognises the significant disruption of permanent night work by providing a 30% loading. Employees who solely work night shifts, remain on nights for over 4 consecutive weeks, or work a non-rotating dedicated night shift must be paid 130% of their ordinary hourly rate for all hours worked during ordinary hours on those shifts.

What are the Annual Leave Provisions in the Manufacturing Award?

All employees, except for casual employees, are entitled to paid annual leave in accordance with the NES. For the purposes of the additional week of annual leave, a shiftworker is a 7 day shiftworker who is regularly rostered to work on Sundays and public holidays.

When taking annual leave, an employee must be paid the wages they would have received for working their ordinary hours during that period, including allowances, loadings and penalties that are paid for all purposes under the award. However, employees are not entitled to payments for overtime, shift loadings, weekend penalties or other expense reimbursements while on annual leave.

Instead, employees are entitled to an annual leave loading of 17.5% on their annual leave pay. For day workers, this loading is paid instead of weekend penalty rates, whichever is higher. For shiftworkers, the 17.5% is paid instead of shift loadings and weekend penalties, whichever is higher.

Shutdown Periods

The award allows employers to direct employees to take paid annual leave during a temporary shutdown period of all or part of operations. The employer must give affected employees 28 days’ written notice of a temporary shutdown period. 

Excessive Leave Accruals

An employee has excessive leave accrual if it is more than 8 weeks’ paid annual leave, or 10 weeks’ paid annual leave for shiftworkers. By agreement, employers may direct employees to take annual leave or employees may request their employer to grant paid annual leave to reduce their accrual.

Annual leave in Advance

Employees can take annual leave in advance of accruing the full entitlement, subject to a written agreement with the employer specifying the leave details. If employment ends before accruing the taken leave, the employer may deduct the outstanding money from any termination payment due to the employee.

Cashing Out Annual Leave

The award permits cashing out of accrued annual leave through a separate written agreement, subject to limits on the amount that can be cashed out and requirements around the remaining accrued balance.

manufacturing employee

Other Leave Entitlements

In accordance with the NES, employees under this Award are entitled to other types of leave, including the following:

Type of LeaveDescription
Personal/Carer’s Leave Employees (except casuals) are entitled to 10 days of paid personal/carer’s leave per year for illness or caring responsibilities, accruing progressively during a year of service.
Compassionate LeaveAll employees, including casuals, are entitled to 2 days of compassionate leave for each permissible occasion when a member of the employee’s immediate family or household dies or suffers a life-threatening illness or injury. Compassionate leave is paid for full-time and part-time employees, and unpaid for casuals.
Parental Leave and Related EntitlementsEmployees are entitled to up to 12 months of unpaid parental leave when a child is born or adopted. This can be shared between employees caring for the child. Employees have the right to request an additional 12 months of leave, which an employer can only refuse on reasonable business grounds. Parental leave provisions apply to all employees, including casual employees who have been working on a regular and systematic basis for at least 12 months.
Community Service LeaveEmployees, including casuals, are entitled to community service leave for certain community service activities, such as jury duty or voluntary emergency management activities. There is no limit on the amount of community service leave an employee can take for eligible activities, but it is unpaid except for jury duty.
Reimbursement for Jury ServiceFull-time and part-time employees are entitled to be paid ‘make-up pay’ for up to 10 days of jury service. ‘Make-up pay’ is the difference between the jury service pay and the employee’s base rate of pay for the ordinary hours they would have worked.
Family and Domestic Violence LeaveAll employees, including part-time and casual employees, are entitled to 10 days of paid leave each year. This leave is available in full at the start of each 12-month period, rather than accruing throughout the year. It does not accumulate from year to year if it is not used. The leave can be used for making arrangements for safety, attending court hearings, or accessing police services.


While this guide on the Manufacturing Award provides a comprehensive framework, it’s essential to recognise that its provisions are subject to periodic updates and changes. Employers are encouraged to stay informed about any amendments or revisions to ensure ongoing compliance with the latest requirements.

Seeking professional advice from employment law experts or industry associations can be invaluable for navigating the complexities of the award and ensuring your business remains compliant with its ever-evolving landscape

WilliamsonBarwick lawyers have experience with the Manufacturing Award and can help you understand your obligations. They can also help you with any conflicts that may arise under the Award between yourself and an employee. 

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What is the Difference Between Manufacturing and Associated Industries Award 2012, the Manufacturing Award 2016 and the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2020?

The Fair Work Commission undertakes a 4 yearly review process for modern awards under the Fair Work Act 2009. During these scheduled reviews, the Commission assesses each award and updates provisions as needed to ensure they remain relevant and meet the modern award objectives.

As part of this process, the previous Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2010 underwent review and was subsequently updated, resulting in the current Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2020 that consolidated any changes made during the 4 yearly review cycle. 

While there may have been interim variations between 2010-2020, the 2020 version is now the operative modern award that replaces any prior versions and must be complied with by employers and employees in the manufacturing and associated industries and occupations covered by its terms.

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