Improvements to the Award and your minimum entitlements

Published: 8 February 2019

Nurses and midwives in private hospitals and aged care will benefit from the latest review of the Nurses Award 2010, thanks to the QNMU and our national body the ANMF securing a suite of improvements.
The Award is the mandatory safety net of minimum pay and conditions for all Australian nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing working in the private and aged care sectors (Queensland Health nurses and midwives are covered by the State Award 2015). It is reviewed every four years by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in consultation with unions and other key stakeholders.
Throughout the latest review, a number of QNMU aged care members provided evidence (including through cross examination) to the FWC. This evidence was instrumental in painting a picture of the working lives of nurses and midwives and highlighting what improvements were needed. Congratulations and thank you to those members who assisted!

Changes to the Award

While many of the following improvements are already included in many enterprise agreements, they are now protected in the Award as minimum entitlements for all nurses, midwives and assistants in nursing. 

  • Domestic and Family Violence: Five days’ unpaid family and domestic violence leave per year. 
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements: Employers must genuinely try to reach an agreement with parents or carers who request flexible work arrangements, and provide detailed reasons for any refusal.
  • Casual conversion: Long-term (12 months) casual workers working regular hours can request conversion to permanent employment. 
  • Deduction from final wages: Employers cannot deduct more than one weeks’ wages if a nurse or midwife does not provide the required notice before resigning. Employers also cannot deduct any other entitlements owed, such as accumulated leave.
  • Remote recall: Nurses and midwives required to work remotely (eg: via telephone) must be paid at the appropriate overtime rate for a minimum one hour, in addition to any on-call allowance.
  • Free from duty and on-call: Nurses and midwives must be free from duty for a minimum two full days each week or four full days each fortnight or eight full days each 28-day cycle. Duty includes any on-call time. 
  • Rest breaks between rostered work: The minimum rest break between ordinary shifts is now 10 hours (unless eight hours has been agreed between the employee and employer). If a nurse or midwife does not get this minimum break, they must be paid at double time until released from duty. 

  • Meal breaks: Nurses and midwives must receive a meal break between the fourth and sixth hours of a shift (if the shift is longer than five hours). If required to be on duty during a meal break, an overtime penalty of all time worked will apply. If required to remain available during a meal break but a meal break can be taken, a 30-minute payment at ordinary rate will apply.

In addition to these improvements, the FWC also determines an annual wage increase. Last year saw a 3.5% increase, with this year’s to be determined before the end of the financial year.

The above is not an exhaustive list. QNMU members can read the Award in full at or contact Member Connect on 3099 3210 or 1800 177 273 for more information.