The Opal decision stresses the importance of correctly interpreting modern rewards, negotiating wage scales and structuring enterprise agreements. The chart below clearly shows how a minor change in an organization`s interpretation of the Nurses Award can significantly change an employee`s hourly wage. At the end of the day, it can be very costly for your organization to be wrong. Before that, it is important that all employers with caregivers know how to apply and interpret the various provisions of the care price. At Workplace Wizards, we can help employers meet minimum standards for legislation and pricing. A key aspect of this appeal was whether Commissioner McKinnon correctly established that the rates of pay in the Opal Aged Care („Opal“) enterprise agreement were higher than the 2010 Nurses Award („Under-billing of Loads and Allowances“). In their joint decision, Vice-President Gostencnick and Vice-President Colman ultimately felt that Commissioner McKinnon`s initial approach was the right one. In concrete terms, the Vice-Presidents state that „the Commissioner`s conclusion [in the original decision] that overtime penalties are also paid on the salaries in question is, in our view, correct.“ The position of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) was that penalty interest should be calculated on an employee`s casual charge rate. On the other hand, Opal relied on the price modernization decision (AM 2008/1-12) which argued that, as a general rule, both penalties and occasional charges should be calculated on the basis of the normal time rate. The Opal decision means that employers of casual nurses must now ensure that they pay their allowances, charges, penalties, etc. in addition to their incisive rate and not in addition to their basic rate. As shown in the table above, this can have significant financial consequences for an employer if it adopts the long-standing approach to the occasional charge, as taken up by Opal.
„… We believe that this is not so much the application of a presumption of interpretation as the ordinary and logical interpretation of section 10.4 [of the Nurses Award]. It is already clear that the normal phrase for casual players is the charged rate. After our previous blog (read here) on the decision in Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation v Domaine Aged Care T/A Opal Aged Care („Opal Decision“), we now agree on what this means for those who employ casual nurses (including registered and registered nurses).