Fair Work Commission’s 4 Yearly Review of Modern Awards – Penalty Rates

There is a lot of press at the moment on the Fair Work Commission’s decision with respect to penalty rates in the hospitality and retail sector. I have also seen a lot of commentary on social media around the decision. The decision is of particular interest to me as I am quite interested generally in Employment Law, but also because I spent a considerable time working in retail under Enterprise Bargaining Agreements that are substantially similar to the underlying Modern Award. Perhaps its because many friends who continue to work for that employer or doing similar work are affected by it that I have been inundated with commentary around it.

I’ve not yet had the opportunity to review the decision in full. However, a summary of the decision is available (as are all decisions of the Commission) on the Commission’s Website. There is also a dedicated page which contains records of all associated documentation. 

I intend to return to the topic once I’ve had a chance to thoroughly review the decision, so do check back for an update and my thoughts on the decision.



17 February will remain a significant date for me as it is the day that I was admitted as a Lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

For those unfamiliar with the process, to be admitted as a lawyer you must complete a prescribed program of study, at undergraduate level this is typically a Bachelor of Law and at post graduate level a juris doctor – in my case a Bachelor of Laws. On completion, you are then also required to undertake a program of practical legal training (PLT). I completed a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice at the College of Law. As part of that study, you required to complete a work placement (the PLT element) and upon completion of that you are then eligible to make an application to the Legal Practitioners Admission Board for admission as a Lawyer.

In order to do that you’re required to undergo a police check. You also must disclosure any prior conduct which might reasonably impact on assessment of your eligibility for admission as a person of current good fame and character, who is a fit and proper person to be admitted to the profession. You need two references from people who have known you longer than two years and who are not family by blood or marriage. If you’ve made disclosures, your referees must have read your disclosures.

Once your application is considered and approved by the board, you are then eligible to attend an admission ceremony. At the ceremony a lawyer moves your admission. You then stand, and bow to the bench. That was exciting to me – I’d not really asked any friends prior to the ceremony about what to expect but people had told me that the oath was taken as a group. A personal moment of recognition from the Chief Justice is quite special. You then take an oath or an affirmation, and the Chief Justice makes a speech in honour of the occasion. Once the ceremony concludes you must then sign the roll of practitioners. If you are into tradition (and in case you haven’t picked up on it from this post, the traditional aspect is quite appealing to me), when your pen lifts from the paper you are officially a lawyer of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

Given the time and effort that is required to get to that point, the admission ceremony is a suitably ceremonious and formal affair. It is a really nice way to mark the occasion and celebrate your success. It doesn’t stop there but you have succeeded in getting to that point. The Supreme Court does a really nice ceremony and I’m glad I got to take part.

With that said, probably the next best thing about it is that the certificate they give you is almost A3 size, which means when you are posing for photos it is only possible to see half your body. Very slimming.