QIRC decision on payment of allowances to apprentices

Date published: 25 February 2021

Townsville City Council is proud to be one of the largest employers of apprentices in the region.

Council currently has 90 apprentices working in a variety of fields across the organisation. Training apprentices is an investment which ensures our city has the skilled tradespeople it needs for the future.

Council welcomes a Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) decision clarifying the interpretation of the legislation regarding the payment of allowances to its apprentice mechanics.

Last year, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) brought action against Council in the QIRC regarding wording in its new certified agreement around the payment of allowances to mechanical apprentices. Council currently employs 18 mechanical apprentices.

The union’s action sought an interpretation of the relevant legislation relating to the payment of allowances.

Prior to this action, there has been no dispute about the payment of allowances.

Consistent with traditional apprentice allowance payments, Council has paid apprentices a proportion of the allowances paid to fully qualified tradespeople according to their year of standing.

In recent years as part of enterprise bargaining negotiations, allowances for various trades have been annualised and paid on an hourly basis rather than by application.

In the new certified agreement which commenced in December 2019, allowances for mechanics and apprentice mechanics were also annualised.

Not wanting to disadvantage one trade over another, Council contested the union’s interpretation of the legislation in the QIRC in order to receive clarity around the payment of allowances for all apprentices.

Council will quickly implement the necessary changes while reserving the right to better understand the interpretation of the legislation.