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Using the Modern Awards database API in Payroll Software and Plain Language will assist in removing payroll complexity.

Updated: Jul 8


Remove payroll complexity with the Fair Work Modern Award Pay database API and Plain Language.

We have repeatedly heard about how difficult it appears to be to understand Awards. There is substance to this assertion, but it's not a vibe or a show-stopper.


As defined, the Awards result from many hours of negotiations and, in some cases, numerous hard-fought battles. To solely focus on simplifying the Awards comes with the risk of stripping away these intrinsic rights.

The use of the Fair Work Modern Awards Pay database API in Payroll Software is another momentous technology game changer for payroll. With its introduction, there are also significant future enhanced benefits for Single Touch Payroll reporting.


COSBOA and the potential pitfalls of the Small Business Schedule.


COSBOA is suggesting a "two-tiered" system using a Small Business Schedule for Awards to satisfy the needs of those who struggle to understand their Fair Work obligations. While the suggestion has merit, I believe it is also fraught with potential problems. This proposition introduces another layer of complexity and a variable into a system many already find hard to comprehend or follow. There is also a risk of abuse with this two-tiered approach. There may be unintended consequences with the suggestion possibly leveraged in ways that COSBOA did not initially foresee. Additionally, concurrent employment has always been problematic, and dealing with these issues should not result in a situation where the employee is worse off due to changes.


It would be unreasonable to downplay the significance of the newly available Modern Awards Pay (MAP) database API and its use in Payroll Software.

Digital Service Providers (DSPs) are currently converting the Fair Work Modern Awards to a form suitable for use in their solutions. When following this process, the risk, responsibilities and legal liabilities are significant if there are errors when translating the information.


From the late 80s onwards, the idea of consuming Award information directly into payroll solutions was just a concept but has been proposed numerous times since then.

Trudy Jones of the FWC and Matt Lewis, Managing Director at Canberra-based consultancy Capability Wise, have engaged with multiple stakeholders over the last 18 months, taking the initiative to provide Awards in an electronic form suitable for digital consumption. The foundation is the Modern Awards Pay (MAP) database. Fair Work's new MAP database API provides many unique possibilities for developers to offer solutions simplifying Awards. As the Awards system becomes more open and transparent with technology, the market has a unique opportunity to address employers' needs substantially. Offerings could be a simple website or complete standalone applications. Decision trees are not difficult to provide once the baseline dataset is available. While we can do much work to build on this starting point, the MAP database API is only the beginning of the journey for payroll software.


There are still many areas of improvement in expanding the currently available data, including the associated clauses and span of hours. The ultimate goal is a Fair Work supplied set of rules enabling the ability to process Time and Attendance driven Award interpretation from a single source of truth.


Creating a Plain Language version of the Fair Work Modern Awards for use in Payroll Software.


The possibility of creating Plain Language versions of the Modern Awards is now also unrestricted. Plain Language ensures the reader understands concepts quickly, effortlessly, and thoroughly. The terms and terminology used by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) are undeniably confusing. They have created the perfect storm of incorrect payments and compliance issues.


Work needs to be performed to simplify the language used and provide consistency between every Award. A complex structure is often used when a simple explanation satisfies the requirements.


Employers must use technology to assist in achieving accurate outcomes when paying employees. There is no difference when this statement is applied to Accounting. I am always astonished when businesses do not question the use of technology to ensure their business accounting needs are met but balk at the idea with payroll software.

Every employee has the right to be paid correctly, and the employer must meet their obligations no matter how complex the system appears.


Addressing the complications and removing the difficulties is long overdue, but the process must result in a win-win for employers and employees. Only then will the objectives be achieved; the sky's the limit.

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