A while back I wrote about the hopeless complexity – and incredible irrelevancy - of Australia’s 122 Modern Awards. I described them as hopelessly complex because, well, they are. And I said they were incredibly irrelevant because, quite frankly, very few employers know they exist, let alone realise that they face fines and prosecution for not adhering to each Awards’ requirements.

These Awards, which impose hundreds of legally-enforceable minimum terms and conditions of employment across various industries and occupations, are virtually incomprehensible and full of inconsistencies. And you don’t need to take my word for it – take the (Orwellian-named) Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) word instead.

As readers of this blog will know, the FWC is currently undertaking the first if its compulsory four-year reviews of the Modern Award system. Hundreds of lawyers, consultants, policy-makers, Commissioners, and public servants are busy reviewing each Award as if they mattered. As if Australia’s small business owners knew they existed, had time to read them, or could understand their convoluted contents even if they did.

Just in case you still harboured any doubts as to the legitimacy of my contempt for the Modern Award system and the current four-year review, take a moment to visit the dedicated pages set up by the FWC. No really. You won’t believe what you’ll find. My favourite is this one Headed ‘Alleged NES Inconsistencies’, this page summarises all of the (alleged) inconsistencies found between the contents of the 122 Modern Awards and the 10 National Employment Standards (NES). How many do you think there are? 47 pages worth. Yes, 47 pages of (alleged) inconsistencies between the legal obligations imposed on employers by the NES and the legal obligations imposed by the Modern Awards.

Quite a remarkable achievement really given that the Modern Awards and the NES were created simultaneously.

If you’ve still got any free time after reading the 47 pages of (alleged) inconsistencies – and if you haven’t already lost the will to go on – why not read the ACTU’s press release demanding that the FWC also force every employer to provide their employees with 10 days’ paid ‘Domestic Violence Leave’ per year.

Given that the unions clearly have no intention of ever joining the real world, perhaps now is a good time for me to reassert the need for the immediate creation of a dedicated Modern Award for small businesses. I’ll write more about that – and the ACTU’s latest thought bubble – in future blogs.