Hair and beauty industry wins it own federal award

By Virginia Muzik

On 19 December 2008, the Australian Industrial Relations Commission (AIRC) handed down its first decision in relation to the award modernisation process as instigated by the Rudd Government. From 1 January 2010, a new Hair and Beauty Industry Award will come into effect for all businesses covered under the federal industrial relations system.

The decision comes as a result of successful lobbying by Hair and Beauty Australia (HBA), an organisation established in September 2008 to specifically represent the hair and beauty industries at a federal level. Prior to this, industry representation consisted of various state-based associations, dealing solely with state-based issues.

According to the organisation, which includes representation by the Advanced Association of Beauty Therapists, early discussions in 2008 suggested that hair and beauty salons were to be covered under a general Retail Industry Award. HBA strenuously objected to this, stating that the employment of apprentices and the presence of unique safety issues make the hair and beauty industry very different to the retail industry. Furthermore, HBA asserted that the draft Retail Award failed to include pay rates for students and graduates of ‘fast track’ courses, and that the minimum pay rates for ‘salon managers’ were far in excess of what the industry usually pays.

HBA Executive Director, Gregory Christo, said the organisation made two written submissions on behalf of the industry to the AIRC, proposing that a separate federal award cover the hair and beauty industry in Australia, and that the minimum pay rates be generally consistent with the qualifications that employees hold. Christo said the AIRC not only granted the industry its own federal award, but also adopted most of HBA’s suggestions in the new federal award.

The new federal award will replace all NAPSAs (Notional Agreement Preserving a State Award) that companies (proprietary limited corporations) are covered by, from 1 January 2010.

“The introduction of a separate Hair and Beauty Industry Award is a major achievement for HBA, because it is the first time in history that a separate award covering the hair and beauty industry has been introduced at federal level,” Christo said. “Furthermore, it complements the very purpose that Hair and Beauty Australia was established for.

“The AIRC’s adoption of HBA’s submissions emphasises that [we are] now recognised as the peak industry body representing the hair and beauty industry in Australia, particularly as far as industrial relations is concerned.”

The new hair and beauty award is included, with three other industry awards; general retail, fast food and pharmacy, under the umbrella of the retail industry.

“The contents of the award are pretty much what we wanted,” Christo said. “The contents of the original draft ‘Retail Award’ were not sufficient to cater for the needs of the hair and beauty industry. HBA’s submissions proposed a number of changes that would cater for the needs of the industry, including the introduction of wage rates for trainee and graduate hairdressers.”

In addition to educating and advising its members on the new Federal Industrial Relations system, HBA will continue to lobby the Federal Government in relation to its proposed Paid Parental Leave Scheme. The organisation will also continue to explore areas such as migration and training, and develop strategies that will directly benefit the industry.

For more information, contact Hair and Beauty Australia: (02) 9221 9911.

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