The Difference Between an Award and Australian Workplace Agreement

In the world of employment, there are various terms and agreements that govern the relationship between employers and employees. Two commonly used terms are award and Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA). While they may seem similar, there are key differences that both employers and employees need to understand.


An award is a set of legally binding minimum conditions and pay rates that apply to specific industries and occupations. It is created by Fair Work Australia (FWA) and covers areas such as minimum wages, leave entitlements, and working conditions. Awards are generally applicable to all employees within a particular industry or occupation, regardless of whether they are union members or not.

Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA)

An Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA), on the other hand, is a written agreement between an employer and employee that sets out the terms and conditions of employment. It is a contractual arrangement that allows employers and individual employees to negotiate their own terms and conditions, which may be more favorable than the applicable award.

Key Differences

While both awards and AWAs regulate employment conditions, there are several significant differences between the two:

  • Settlement agreement checklist is not applicable to awards, but it is an essential element in the creation of AWAs. It ensures that both parties have considered all relevant factors and have reached a mutually acceptable agreement.
  • Union security agreements are valid and legal in awards, meaning that employees can be required to join a union or pay union fees. However, AWAs give employees the freedom to choose whether to join a union or not.
  • Multi-level service level agreements (SLAs) are not typically included in awards, but they can be negotiated and included in AWAs. SLAs outline the agreed-upon service levels and performance metrics between the employer and employee.


Understanding the difference between an award and an Australian Workplace Agreement (AWA) is crucial for both employers and employees. While awards provide minimum standards that apply to specific industries or occupations, AWAs offer the flexibility to negotiate individualized terms and conditions. It is important to consult with employment experts or legal professionals to ensure compliance with the applicable laws and agreements.