Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2020

Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2020

Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2020

The Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award 2020 is the pre-eminent Federal Award covering private sector employees engaged in the plumbing and fire industries. The plumbing industry award is very broad covering employees of contractors engaged in every plumbing and fire activity from large-scale building construction and civil construction to small businesses offering domestic plumbing services for taps and toilets. The Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award includes installation, maintenance, inspection and testing of fire services and plumbing, including gas fitting and air-conditioning.

Although the Plumbing Award has various classification levels depending on experience and qualifications/competencies achieved, there are essentially three trades covered under the award – plumbing, mechanical services, and fire sprinkler fitting.

Under the Plumbing and Fire Sprinklers Award, employees must be classified as either daily hire (plumbing and mechanical services only), full-time or part-time weekly, or as casual.  Daily hire means either party is only required to give one day’s notice to end the relationship. Weekly hire employees work an average of 38 hours per week. Part-time employees work an average of less than 38 hours per week and have reasonably predictable hours of work. Casual employees must work less than an average of 38 hours per week, or 5 days per week over any 2 successive weeks. Casual employees receive an additional 25% casual loading and must be paid a minimum 3-hour engagement per shift.

It should also be noted that under the Award, daily hire employees only have particular redundancy provisions that are unique to the industry and quite distinct from the normal legislative provisions. For example, under the Award, an employee with 12 months of service is entitled to a payment regardless of the reason for the employment separation (including resignation). Specialist advice should also be sought if an employer is considering meeting their award redundancy obligations via contributing to a redundancy fund such as ACIIRT.

The typical roster under the Award for a full-time employee is a 20-day roster, worked between Monday to Friday, with 0.4 hours per day accruing towards a Rostered Day Off (RDO).  The ordinary 38 hours per week are to be worked between 7 am and 6 pm, with the ability to alter standard hours, including an earlier starting time, through an agreement between the parties.

All employees under the award have two standard breaks per day, an unpaid lunch break of at least 30 minutes between noon and 1 pm, and a paid smoko break of 10 minutes between 9 am and 11 am. Meal breaks are also prescribed when employees work an additional 2 hours of overtime during Monday to Friday or after working 4 hours on a Saturday, Sunday or a Public Holiday.

The Plumbing Award mandates a fatigue break where an employee must have a 10-hour continuous break between the completion of overtime and the employee’s normal starting time on the following workday. If the employee has not had a 10-hour beak, they must be released from work, or if required to continue work, entitled to an additional penalty of 200% until released from duty.

The Plumbing and Fire Award contains several common allowances, including fares and travel within a 50 km radius which is a daily payment for employees who are required to start and finish work on a building site rather than at a depot or office. Additional payments normally apply when employees are directed to proceed to jobs outside the radius.

Employers should also be aware of all-purpose allowances contained within the Plumbing Award such as Industry Allowance (Plumbing and Mechanical Services), Plumbing Trade Allowance and Fire Sprinkling Fitting Trade Allowance.

The Plumbing and Fire Award has specific provisions called ‘Inclement Weather’, which refers to situations where an employee is prevented from starting work or undertaking work due to inclement conditions such as rain, dust, or high temperatures and humidity. The provisions incorporate processes that need to be followed by employees and employers alike, and it is highly recommended that you seek specialist advice prior to these situations arising. Traditionally, the interpretation of inclement weather can cause conflict at the worksite or encourage interference from third parties.

The Plumbing and Fire Award has prescribed penalty rates where employees are required to work overtime beyond their usual finishing time or outside their ordinary working hours. Penalty rates under the Award can be summarised as 150% (first 2 hours Monday to Friday) and then 200% for additional hours worked.

On Saturdays, Sprinkler Fitters receive 200% for all hours worked, whilst Plumbers, Mechanical Services and irrigation installers receive 150% for the first two hours prior to noon and 200% for all subsequent hours or any work performed after noon. All employees have a minimum engagement of 3 hours on a Saturday.

On Sundays, all employees receive 200% with a minimum engagement of three hours.

On Public holidays, all employees receive 250% with a minimum engagement of four hours.

Workforce Advisory Lawyers offers a service at competitive rates where we undertake a thorough audit of your employment records to ensure all employees are correctly classified, receiving the correct wages and overtime payments, as well as superannuation entitlements. The audit also ensures you are keeping all times and wages records and employment details, as required by the Fair Work Ombudsman.

The Plumbing and Fire Award has annual leave requirements which are compatible with the National Employment Standards (NES), being 4 weeks per year, and entitlement to 17 ½ % leave loading when annual leave is taken. If an employee has more than eight weeks accrued leave, under the award, there are provisions for the employer to manage this to a minimum of six weeks. An employee can request to cash out annual leave, but only for a maximum of two weeks every 12 months, and the balance must remain at least 4 weeks.

As is now common with many Federal awards, the Plumbing Award refers to the following leave provisions:

  • Sick and Carer’s Leave;

  • Compassionate & Bereavement Leave;

  • Maternity and Parental Leave;

  • Community Service Leave;

  • Family and Domestic Violence Leave;

to the standards contained within the NES.

The Plumbing and Fire Award has standard TCR consultation provisions that apply where an employer makes a definite decision to make major changes likely to have significant effects on employees.

With the exception of daily hire employees and casual employees, under the Plumbing and Fire  Award, an employee must give notice as per the following table:

Period of Notice

For questions about Construction Award or other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 1300 WAL LAW, 0417 622 178 or via email to

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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