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Screenshot taken from the YouTube video

“Pneuma” by Tool (LIVE IN CONCERT) – HD Drumming Video

By Music, Simon Says No Comments

This has got to be the best drumming video I’ve ever seen from any ‘western’ music. Full stop! Maybe from any genre of music.

The band here is Tool (website). They’re from LA and have been a staple in the metal and alternative music scenes since the ’90’s. The cassette of their 1996 album Ænima (Wikipedia | Spotify) was continually being passed around at my high school and was always on rotation at parties back then. Admittedly I’ve not really listened to much Tool music in the last decade – I don’t even know if they’ve released much music in that time period – however I got on to their latest album Fear Inoculum (Wikipedia | Spotify) after reading a review in a guitar magazine. And what an album it is! I’ve had this album on repeat almost exclusively since this first listen. But rather than get in to a review of the album I’d like to share this HD video of the band’s drummer Danny Carey (Wikipedia) performing the song Pneuma off the album – before I do though, a note on the guitar.

The guitar piece is wonderful and most will recognise that it’s in the key of D minor. The intro in the piece is really nice and is a progression of Am, F, C, F, C (altered to include a D note), and Dm. This is a power chord progression in drop D tuning that looks as follows:

Guitar Tab

As these are power chords, and not ‘complete’ chords with three notes each, they are not technically adhering to the Dm key (e.g. the first power chord could equally imply an A major). However Dm is the key as we’ve got an F rather than an F# and a C rather than a C# which we’d see if the first chord was an A major. I particularly like how this starts on Am and works through the key to resolve on Dm for a full bar before repeating (the three tones in this chord are D, A, D so not technically a Dm as it’s missing the minor third or F note). I think of the fifth chord as a C (altered to include a D note), and not an F (altered to include a D note), as the progression descends from F to C to F then down a little further than the previous C hence thinking of this as a C with a D element (instead of the E note). No doubt there is a better more technically correct method to represent these two notes, but this is how I think it through.

But on to the drumming.

This drumming piece is phenomenal. The polyrythms (Wikipedia) are technically brilliant too. And the time signatures, for all instruments, shift throughout the song. The guitar piece listed above is in 4/4 time, however the last bar of the eight bar into progression is in 5/4 time, and as the song progresses into the main you’ll hear a bar of 6/4, then a couple of bars of 7/4, then a bar of 5/8, then a couple of bars of 7/4, then back to a bar of 5/7, then back to a couple of 7/4. Just amazing. And Danny does a phenomenal job of holding all of this together with the drum set (including using both polyrythms and time signatures that differ to the guitars and vocals but still resolving in a technically brilliant manner). Words can’t do this performance justice, watch for yourself below.

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Actual vs Relative Pay Rises: How to determine if you’re better off as an above-award or non-award employee

By Human Resources, Simon Says No Comments

Workers who are paid above-award rates, or who work in professions that are not covered by a Modern Award (Fair Work Ombudsman) or Enterprise Agreement (Fair Work Commission), do not have recourse to a regulated pay rise unless their individual contract of employment (Fair Work Ombudsman) stipulates one, or they are paid the national minimum wage (Fair Work Ombudsman) and that is increased. Consequently, this category of worker can experience difficulty in understanding if any increase to their rate of pay is fair.

note: This article is written in the context of the Australian Industrial Relations System. Read More

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Fair Work Ombudsman and Woolworths: Major Underpayments of Salaried Employees

By Human Resources, Simon Says, Uncategorised No Comments
The Fair Work Ombudsman (web) announced today (press release) that they have commenced legal action in the Federal Court (web) against Woolworths Group Limited (web | wiki | ABR | ASX) and Woolworths (South Australia) Pty Limited. [EDIT – Case details here]. This legal action follows Woolworths’ self disclosure in 2019 to both the Ombudsman and the Australian Securities Exchange that it had underpaid thousands of salaried employees across Australia. The Ombudsman investigated the underpayments and assessed the records of a sample of 70 employees for their work between March 2018 and March 2019. In this Federal Court matter the ombudsman alleges that Woolworths has underpaid these 70 employees a total of $1,172,282 during this period. Despite back-payments, the FWO alleges that a total of $713,395 of underpayments remains outstanding to these employees. Further, the ombudsman is seeking court orders forcing Woolworths to rectify the total outstanding underpayments in relation to the 70 employees whose records were assessed – and to then apply those calculation methods to rectify any underpayments owed to all other affected employees (up to 19,000 employees), plus interest and superannuation. Read More

Guitar build in progress

My new guitar – 1961 Gibson SG Custom-style build

By Simon Says No Comments

Over late 2020 and into early 2021 I built a new guitar for myself. I’m proud of this one, and it was even more of a challenge as I finished it off whilst moving house.

I started studying music and learning the guitar when I was 13 – my first year of high school, grade eight. I was obsessed with Nirvana and Kurt Cobain at the time, and heavily influenced by the grunge scene. Grade eight introduced me to the study of music for the first time, and the first term was focused on the guitar. I was hooked (even though we only learned a simple rendition of Ode to Joy on a classical guitar). About half-way through the year I was able to convince my parents to get me guitar lessons. I used to skate from school, Burnside State High School, into town on Wednesday afternoons for a lesson at 4:30pm. This worked out well as I could go and skate on this fun ledge behind the Nambour Civic Centre for an hour before guitar lessons.

My guitar lessons were in the basement of Nambour Music World with who I thought was the ‘most rad’ guitar player around. My teacher’s name was Richard, he wore ripped jeans, and he had tight curly shoulder-length hair. And he played the coolest guitar I’d ever seen – a Tune-o-matic bridge Gibson SG. He gave off vibes of a grungy Slash. I was star struck. At the time I had a cheap nylon-string guitar that would stay in tune for all of three seconds. I was able to upgrade to a loan guitar from a friend of my aunty – a black Gibson Les Paul copy with a couple of humbuckers and an old Laney bass amplifier. The guitar looked the part however the action was incredibly high and the bridge assembly was rusted so it couldn’t be adjusted. At least I could thrash chords on that thing with no fear of fret buzz!

Since starting guitar lessons I’ve always wanted an SG. I needed some of that ‘coolness’ from Richard to rub off on me, and damn they sound so nice. And how funky is the neck warping pitch adjustment you can get with them! I never got around to purchasing an SG, I could never justify the cost for an amateur guitar player. The first guitar I purchased was a Fender Squire Stratocaster in metallic purple and a perloid pickguard paired with a Marshall 100 watt tube amp. So come 2020, a bit of spare time, and a new project idea. How about I build myself a replica SG with coolness dripping off everywhere. And that’s just what I did. I call this guitar the SG Richard.


I originally went for a classic Gibson head-stock profile but changed to something a little more aggressive.

The guitar is modelled off a 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG Custom with three pickups. This was the first SG (Solid Guitar) released by Gibson and introduced the double cutaways along with a thinner profile and a mahogany body. When ordering an SG the customer could select whether they wanted humbuckers or P90s and a Tune-o-matic bridge assembly, wraparound bridge, or vibrato tailpiece. Gibson’s SG Standard is their best selling guitar of all time.

I’ve remained true to the original with a mahogany body and neck and I’ve got a bookend section of flame maple as a veneer on the front of the body and the front of the head-stock. I’ve kept a dark fretboard, using rosewood, and I’ve also stayed true to form with the trapezoid inlays. Where I really differ is I’ve used three humbucker-sized P90s from Tonerider in my build, the Rebel 90s, which are wired in a very different manner to the standard Les Paul wiring, and I’ve used a Bigsby-style tremolo system. The pickups are two neck P90s at 8.4k and one bridge P90 at 9.3k. All have Alnico 2 magnets. The wiring I’ve gone with allows these to be finely selected and blended to produce a range of wonderful tones.

I’ve also kept a black plastic nut in my build. I’m vegan so bone products are off-limits and I wanted to keep with the black aesthetic and not introduce a standalone white element. I’m also working on some custom tone and volume knobs to replace the standard silver Les Paul knobs that I’m using at present, and a custom truss rod cover – I just can’t land on a design I like though.

Pickup Wiring

I wanted to try something unique with the pickup wiring so instead of the standard Les Paul method of wiring three pickups into a three-way control switch I’ve got a little creative. This guitar now has three volume knobs and one tone knob connected to a standard three-way control switch.

Copper shielding throughout

With the standard Les Paul three pickup configuration you can isolate the bridge pickup, you can isolate the neck pickup, or you can combine the middle and neck pickups. That’s it. The middle pickup exists as a full blend with the neck pickup only and, when selected, the volume adjusts both of them at the same time.

This just wasn’t going to fly for a custom build so I’ve setup this guitar to isolate and blend all three pickups however I like. The treble selector selects the bridge pickup and the middle pickup, the middle selector selects all three pickups, and the rhythm selector selects the middle and neck pickups. However, given that I have three volume potentiometers I can isolate and blend these however I like. If I’m on the treble selector I can isolate just the bridge pickup by turning down the middle pickup’s volume completely, or I can blend in 50% of the middle pickup by adjusting the volume accordingly. And I get this across the three settings (including a completely isolated middle pickup). The wiring diagram for this configuration is below:

Wiring DiagramThe neck is lovely. I’ve installed jumbo frets and the levelling outcome was great. I’ve gone for a traditional bevelled fret end rather than completely round end simply because I like the feel. Action’s set fairly low, lower than Gibson’s standard action. This is actually the lowest that I can go with the current bridge

Gibson Standard This Guitar
Treble Side 3/64 inch | 1.19 mm 1.09 mm
Bass Side 5/64 inch | 1.98 mm 1.50 mm

The Finish

I’ve gone with a burned orange all natural stain throughout. I used five coats of stain to get the colour depth and I’ve topped it off with three coats of a matte clear stain. I’ve lightly polished the head-stock and body, and I’ve left the back of the neck unpolished (I just like the feel of a more raw, unpolished neck). I’m really happy with how the ‘flames’ in the flame maple veneer pop. It looks great in both the sun and under an artificial light.

The Strings

For the strings I’ve gone with the best I can get my hands on. I’ve strung the guitar with 10/48 gauge nickel wound Stringjoy signatures. These strings, made in Nashville, are great. They’ve got a different gauge profile that you’d ordinarily see on a set of 10’s and they play and feel fantastic. The gauge spread is:

High E String B String G String D String A String Low E String
.010  .135 .017 .026 .036 .048

And throughout this build I also helped my youngest daughter build a Fender Telecaster-style guitar. It turned out great. Whenever she’s asked what it was like to build a guitar she says “there’s just so much sanding!”

Willow’s Fender Telecaster-style build. Notice her name stencilled on the head-stock in a Fender font.

Full specs 

  • 1961 Gibson Les Paul SG Custom-style guitar
  • Mahogany body with flame maple veneer
  • Mahogany neck with flame maple veneer on head-stock (“C” profile)
  • Dual-action truss rod (head-stock access)
  • Rosewood fretboard with 22 jumbo frets and trapezoid inlays
  • Grover locking tuners in gold
  • Three humbucker-sized Tonerider P90 pickups in gold
  • Bigsby-style tremolo bridge in gold
  • Three 500k linear potentiometers (volume)
  • One 500k logarithmic potentiometer (tone)
  • Traditional three-way pickup selector
  • Copper-shielded throughout (pickup cavities and control cavity)

The aggressive head-stock profile.


On the Limitation of Genetic Intervention: a Reply to Agar

By Philosophy, Simon Says, Uncategorised No Comments

This is one of my undergrad (BA Phil) essays, a few of which I share on this website. This particular essay was for a Practical Ethics subject.

On the Limitation of Genetic Intervention: a Reply to Agar

Nicholas Agar, in his paper ‘Designing Babies: Morally Permissible Ways to Modify the Human Genome’, argues that while therapeutic genetic engineering is generally regarded as morally acceptable, it is a mistake to regard all forms of eugenic genetic engineering as morally abhorrent. I disagree with this position of Agar’s and in the following paper I illustrate where his paper is weak and I present an argument why any form of genetic intervention, except in the most extreme circumstances, is morally impermissible.

The last section of Agar’s paper deals with circumstances in which he thinks genetic intervention is morally impermissible. He argues that there is somewhat of an analogy between the abilities, desires, and capacities of genetic engineers and those of the process of natural selection; and important differences too. Agar illustrates that the changes in an individual’s genotype, and consequently their phenotype, are naturally ‘engineered’ via the process of natural selection. Natural selection has a ‘goal’ in this process, that individuals find and reproduce with the best genetic matches to ensure a successful consequent generation (Agar 1995, p. 11). Likewise, genetic engineers have goals in their pursuits of genetic modification, but these goals are not nearly as broad and inclusive as those of the process of natural selection. The goals of genetic engineers may by constrained by many external forces, be they social, religious, political, or economical. Selecting and enhancing a gene for a particular trait that is desired in 21st century Australia may result in a socially, politically, or economically specific generation of people that is not suited to the world as a whole. Such active discrimination, argues Agar, is a clear boundary for the exclusion of genetic modification (Agar 1995, pp. 10 – 15).

This position is something that is largely agreeable, and consequently something that I will not argue against in this paper. Where Agar falls short is his failure to see that this particular argument of his extends to most forms of genetic intervention, even some forms of therapeutic genetic engineering.

Agar focuses upon one main counter claim to the position against eugenic genetic intervention (EGI), the claim that EGI is too expensive and therefore exclusive. Agar argues against this claim by attempting to show that EGI does not interfere with the individual’s phenotype and is therefore less harmful than many think. Agar is wrong in both regards.

Agar (1995, p. 5) makes the uncontroversial claim that ‘[e]arly eugenic intervention is likely to be very expensive. This means it will only be available to the wealthy’. Agar uses an example first used by Jerry Bishop and Michael Waldholz, which I’ll reproduce below, to illustrate that this line of thinking is not really important. What does it matter if a few genes are modified if one’s environment is a major influencing factor too? The argument by Bishop and Waldholz (in Agar 1995, p. 5) is as follows:

It wouldn’t take many generations of this discriminatory genetic selection to produce an ever- widening gap between the upper and lower strata of society. …[A] society in which a butcher’s son has little opportunity to be anything but a butcher and an executive’s child is born to be an executive may not seem unreal as it might seem today.

Agar’s error in dealing with this statement is that he focuses solely upon genetic determinism in its refutation. Agar dedicates a great deal of verbosity illustrating the differences between an individual’s genotype and their phenotype (something that I luckily don’t need to explore in detail here) in an attempt to show that there are few traits that can be effectively controlled in the modification of the genotype alone. Traits such as whether or not one is a butcher or one is an executive have a great deal of reliance upon the phenotype so their engineering at the genetic level is problematic, if not impossible.

But genetic determinism is not the only conclusion that can be drawn from the Bishop and Waldholz argument. It may very well be true that engineering an executive is problematic, if not impossible, but the process of selectively modifying the genomes of particular individuals (the rich) over a number of generations will result in two distinct classes of individuals; those with EGI and those without. The social and moral implications of this fact are entirely overlooked by Agar. Admittedly, this is a grey area for we are talking about some possible generation of people, and perhaps the executive and butcher argument above is too strong, but it remains that those who can afford EGI will posses genetic differences to those who cannot afford similar, or any, EGI. It is too strong, as Agar correctly illustrates, to claim the presence of an ‘executive’s gene’, but this is not the main concern. The main concern is that those who can afford EGI have the potential to receive some sort of social benefit. Discriminating against future social inclusion based upon one’s present financial state is not a morally praiseworthy decision.

But, as I mentioned above, this applies to much therapeutic genetic intervention (TGI) too. Agar simply brushes over the issue of TGI in the beginning of his paper claiming that TGI is the kind of process that is generally considered morally acceptable (Agar 1995, p. 2). This is certainly not sufficient, even more so since many arguments against EGI can be applied to TGI too. Perhaps the main concern with TGI is that a ‘normal’ human has to be defined before any particular genetic abnormality is identified and rectified. Since humans are so diverse, and what we all deem valuable is almost certainly subjective, defining some set of ‘normal’ traits is problematic. If, for example, we say that Downs Syndrome is a candidate for TGI we are devaluing the life experiences of persons with Downs Syndrome, we are saying that our life, our genome, is superior. Rather than modify the social world to be more inclusive, TGI seeks to be exclusive and remove those ‘defects’ deemed undesirable. This is not to say, of course, that some medical conditions, particularly life threatening medical conditions, would not be a candidate for TGI, but the motivation of both the patient and the genetic therapist, and also the wider social world, would need to be carefully considered.

Consider the following thought experiment I’ve adapted from a similar one presented by Rob Sparrow (2008).

  1. A couple are having in-vitro fertilisation, and undertake pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of the single embryo that they have available to implant. The embryo carries a gene for bowel cancer that can be fixed with TGI. The embryo is fine in all other regards.

    Should the couple choose to have TGI? Yes, No, or toss a coin?
  2. A couple are having in-vitro fertilisation, and undertake pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of the single embryo that they have available to implant. The embryo carries a gene associated with life expectancy X that can be increased via TGI. The embryo is fine in all other regards.

    Should the couple choose to have TGI? Yes, No, or toss a coin?
  3. A mixed race couple are having in-vitro fertilisation, and undertake pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of the single embryo that they have available to implant. They live in a racist society in which white individuals have a longer life expectancy, and other health and social advantages compared to those with dark skin. The embryo carries a gene for dark skin that can be altered via TGI to become a gene for white skin. The embryo is fine in all other regards.

    Should the couple choose to have TGI? Yes, No, or toss a coin?
  4. A couple are having in-vitro fertilisation, and undertake pre-implantation genetic diagnosis of the single embryo that they have available to implant. The embryo carries a gene for Mayer-Kuster-Rokitansky-Hauser (MKRH) syndrome that can be fixed via TGI. The embryo is fine in all other regards.
    MKRH is an (imaginary) syndrome in which infants are born without a uterus. They can only reproduce using a surrogate. The gene for MKRH is also associated with a life expectancy 5 years less than individuals who do not have this gene.

    Should the couple choose to have TGI? Yes, No, or toss a coin?

In all of these cases, except number 3, it seems to be, prima facie, morally acceptable to decide to accept TGI. The individual in question, if given TGI, will live a longer, happier, and more productive life. Number 3 is a little uncomfortable even though it seems logical to opt for TGI. I’m not interested in number 3 here though, I’m interested in number 4. Here we have an individual without a uterus, can only reproduce via a surrogate, and lives on average five years less than those who don’t possess the MKRH gene. Again, prima facie, it seems that opting for TGI in this case is morally acceptable. But what if MKRH is simply a nice euphemism for what we now call maleness? We become instantly uncomfortable as in case number 3. My point here is that even TGI is aimed at treating conditions based upon our social, religious, political, and/or economic desires. Without some sort of complicated moral equation, the sort that can effectively balance maleness with life expectancy for example, TGI becomes just as morally problematic as EGI.

Agar’s paper is semi-successful; it provides a very good position to argue against genetic intervention. Unfortunately he doesn’t extend it far enough for his argument is just as valid against TGI as it is against the undesirable instances of EGI that he illustrates. The use of genetic intervention is too problematic, and full of inherent arbitrariness, that there are only a handful of cases where a successful moral argument can be constructed for its use.


Agar, N 1995, “Designing Babies: Morally Permissible Ways to Modify the Human Genome”, in Bioethics, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 1 – 16

Sparrow, R 2008, “Better than men? Sex and the therapy/enhancement distinction”, Conference Presentation, James Martin Advanced Research Seminar, University of Oxford, November 12.

A photo of Australian bank notes

Annualised Wage Arrangements: Australia’s Modern Awards

By Human Resources, Simon Says 26 Comments

O n 1 March 2020 the Australian Modern Award landscape was adjusted to include new provisions for Annualised Wage Arrangements. I’ve been reminded this week, through a large amount of marketing material offering professional services, that one of the clauses requires a review of the arrangements in place after a period of twelve months (or when each relevant employee terminates their employment). That twelve month period starts from last week.

In 2019 and 2020 a number of large organisations were caught out underpaying their employees. Large-scale internal payroll audits were completed across the Australian corporate sector throughout 2020 in part because of these annualised wage arrangement provisions; in part because knowingly underpaying employees became a criminal offence and few people would want to be the first successful prosecution in that space; and also because a number of these large organisations were implementing new HR and Payroll systems to assist them in complying with an increasingly complex Industrial Relations framework and these new best-of-breed solutions uncovered historical inaccuracies. The Fair Work Ombudsman undertook 1,432 workplace audits in 2020 based on “public knowledge reports” and found a 71% non-compliance rate. Of the large organisations who self-reported underpayments, more than AUD$90m (perhaps up to AUD$600m) is now due as back pay.

On 1 October 2019, the Fair Work Ombudsman released the following statement putting employers on notice regarding underpayment of workers:

“The Fair Work Ombudsman will be holding Wesfarmers to account after self-disclosing significant underpayments of its workers. Each week, another large company is publicly admitting that they failed to ensure staff are receiving their lawful entitlements. This simply is not good enough. Companies will be held accountable for breaching workplace laws. Companies and their Boards are on notice that we will consider the full range of enforcement options available under the Fair Work Act, including litigation where appropriate.”

There isn’t data available that discusses positive compliance – noting that 29% of the audits completed by the Fair Work Ombudsman found no compliance issues – and there is no data available on companies that weren’t audited. My personal view is that large organisations aren’t making deliberate decisions to underpay workers. They may be arrogant and trying to skate close to the line when it comes to compliance, and some have been caught out when reviewing past practices, however I’d be surprised if there are large organisations that are deliberately trying to underpay Modern Award entitlements. Australia’s IR framework is complex and not easy to understand, and often the people who are configuring the software solutions that manage time and attendance, and payroll, are not IR experts who understand how the different configuration options may impact statutory entitlements. In the Wesfarmers example above, their public statement illustrates that they identified payroll issues whilst implementing a new payroll software system and subsequently engaged the professional services firm PwC to complete a detailed audit. And the same was the case at Woolworths who identified significant payroll errors for their Modern Award-covered salaried employees of around AUD$500m whilst implementing a new Enterprise Agreement and a new payroll software system. Ignorance is not an excuse, and this is a good reminder that IR requires care and investment to get right.

The changes

The rules for annualised wage arrangements that came into effect on 1 March 2020 are located within the various Modern Awards. Employees not covered by a Modern Award are not covered by the rules for annualised wage arrangements. Each Modern Award embeds the annualised wage arrangement rules in a manner which suits the context of the applicable Modern Award. As an example, below is the language used in the Clerks – Private Sector Modern Award:

18. Annualised wage arrangements

[Varied by PR719747]

18.1 Annualised wage instead of award provisions

[18.1(a) varied by PR719747 ppc 29May20]

(a) An employer may pay a full-time employee an annualised wage in satisfaction, subject to clause 18.1(c), of any or all of the following provisions of the award:

(i) clause 13.8 (Make-up time); and

(ii) clause 16—Minimum rates; and

(iii) clause 19—Allowances; and

(iv) clause 21—Overtime (employees other than shiftworkers); and

(v) clause 22—Rest period after working overtime (employees other than shiftworkers); and

(vi) clause 23—Time off instead of payment for overtime (employees other than shiftworkers); and

(vii) clause 24—Penalty rates (employees other than shiftworkers); and

(viii) clause 26—Ordinary hours of work and rostering for shiftwork; and

(ix) clause 28—Overtime for shiftwork; and

(x) clause 29—Time off instead of payment for overtime for shiftwork; and

(xi) clause 30—Rest period after working overtime for shiftwork; and

(xii) clause 31—Penalty rates for shiftwork; and

(xiii) clause 32.3—Annual leave loading.

(b) Where an annualised wage is paid, the employer must advise the employee in writing, and keep a record of:

(i) of the annualised wage that is payable;

(ii) which of the provisions of this award will be satisfied by payment of the annualised wage;

(iii) the method by which the annualised wage has been calculated, including specification of each separate component of the annualised wage and any overtime or penalty assumptions used in the calculation; and

(iv) the outer limit number of ordinary hours which would attract the payment of a penalty rate under the award and the outer limit number of overtime hours which the employee may be required to work in a pay period or roster cycle without being entitled to an amount in excess of the annualised wage in accordance with clause 18.1(c).

(c) If in a pay period or roster cycle an employee works any hours in excess of either of the outer limit amounts specified pursuant to clause 18.1(b)(iv), such hours will not be covered by the annualised wage and must separately be paid for in accordance with the applicable provisions of this award.

18.2 Annualised wage not to disadvantage employees

(a) The annualised wage must be no less than the amount the employee would have received under this award for the work performed over the year for which the wage is paid (or, if the employment ceases earlier, over such lesser period as has been worked).

(b) The employer must each 12 months from the commencement of the annualised wage arrangement or upon the termination of employment of the employee calculate the amount of remuneration that would have been payable to the employee under the provisions of this award over the relevant period and compare it to the amount of the annualised wage actually paid to the employee. Where the latter amount is less than the former amount, the employer shall pay the employee the amount of the shortfall within 14 days.

(c) The employer must keep a record of the starting and finishing times of work, and any unpaid breaks taken, of each employee subject to an annualised wage arrangement for the purpose of undertaking the comparison required by clause 18.2(b). This record must be signed by the employee, or acknowledged as correct in writing (including by electronic means) by the employee, each pay period or roster cycle.

18.3 Base rate of pay for employees on annualised wage arrangements

For the purposes of the NES, the base rate of pay of an employee receiving an annualised wage under clause 18 comprises the portion of the annualised wage equivalent to the relevant rate of pay in clause 16—Minimum rates and excludes any incentive-based payments, bonuses, loadings, monetary allowances, overtime and penalties.

How did these changes come about?

The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission made a decision in 2018 regarding annualised wage arrangements ensuring:

  • There should be a requirement for individual agreement to be reached with the relevant employee before an annualised salary arrangement is introduced in circumstances where the working hours of the employee are highly variable from one week to the next or over the course of a year;
  • Where the annualised salary arrangement is by agreement, it should be terminable by the employer or employee at annual intervals upon notice;
  • The annualised salary arrangement should be in writing;
  • In no circumstances should an annualised salary clause in a modern award permit or facilitate an employee receiving less pay over the course of a year than they would have received had the terms of the modern award been applied in the ordinary way, and it is essential that the clause contain a mechanism or combination of mechanisms to ensure that this does not happen. The Full Bench has identified three types of mechanism to ensure this:
  • A requirement for a minimum increment above the base rate of pay, prescribed in the annualised salaries clause itself, including an outer limit on the number of overtime or penalty rate hours which are compensated by the increment;
  • A requirement that the arrangement identify the way the annualised salary is calculated; and
  • A requirement that the employer undertake an annual reconciliation or review exercise, and be required to keep records of overtime and penalty rate hours; and
  • Annualised salary arrangements should only have application to full-time employees unless a workable proposition can be identified for the application of such provisions to part-time employees.

This led to a consultation period which formally evaluated submissions from a variety of Unions and employer groups. Following the consultation period the Fair Work Commission determined to implement standard annualised wage arrangement rules across the various Modern Awards which subsequently came into effect on 1 March 2020 (noting that not all of the principles outlined in 2018 were implemented).

Who doesn’t this apply to?

Workers who are covered by an Enterprise Agreement are not covered by a Modern Award. Such workers should consult their relevant Enterprise Agreement regarding terms and conditions for annualised wage arrangements.

Workers covered by a Guarantee of Annual Earnings – a written arrangement that allows an employer to pay an employee the high income threshold or higher over 12 months or more – will not receive entitlements from a relevant award.

A number of employers, occupations and industries are not covered by Modern Awards. For example, most State and Territory employers are governed by State-based industrial relations legislation and instruments. If you’re unsure if there is a Modern Award for your occupation contact the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94 or use their Award Finder service.

Key Process Changes

Annual Reconciliation

Many employers undertake an annual salary review process already so the impact of an annual reconciliation shouldn’t be too burdensome – in theory. However what the annualised wage arrangements rules require is that this reconciliation takes place annually from the commencement of the annualised wage arrangement rather than at a fixed annual date for all employees as would usually occur during a salary review process. This means that these reconciliations will occur, staggered, throughout the year as contract anniversaries come around, and also when each relevant employee leaves the business.

Time Keeping Requirements

Inherently linked to the requirement to complete an annual reconciliation is enhanced timekeeping requirements. Under the annualised wage arrangement rules all related employees need to sign or acknowledge as correct a record of hours worked, held by the employer, for every pay period or roster cycle. These records must be used as part of the annual reconciliation referenced above. This is quite common for hourly employees, however this is rather novel for employers of professionals and for those on annualised wages.

Contract Language

Contracts of Employment, or related documentation, may also needed a refresh. Each employee working under an annualised wage arrangement must have the methodology used for calculating the annualised wage explained. The Contract of Employment must also explicitly state the outer limit of hours used in the calculation of the annualised wage. This outer limit is relevant, not only for the annual reconciliation, but also because any hours worked outside this outer limit within a pay period or roster cycle need to be managed in accordance with the terms of the relevant Modern Award and paid/processed in that same pay period or roster cycle. These hours worked outside this outer limit are not covered by the annualised wage arrangement.

Fair Work Commission and other cases

I’m not aware of any cases that have come before the Fair Work Commission dealing with a dispute around the annualised wage arrangements provisions of the Modern Awards, and I’m not aware of any related civil proceedings either. This doesn’t mean that there haven’t been disputes and settlements, just that none have progressed through to a hearing or trial (that I’m aware of). This does pose a challenge for employers as there are no decisions or judgements which may be referenced in setting policy or procedure. For example, some questions that immediately come to mind are:

  • If an Annual Reconciliation was conducted in December as part of a company-wide salary review process, is that sufficient for the Annual Reconciliation requirement under the relevant Modern Award? If not, how close to the twelve-month anniversary must the review be completed and what is a reasonable time frame for completion?
  • Does the outcome of the Annual Reconciliation need to be communicated to the employee?
  • Can time-keeping acknowledgements be administered by exception? For example, can a Contract of Employment include language that has the employee acknowledge that they agree in advance that all hours worked in a pay period or roster cycle are as defined in the Contract of Employment unless the employee formally follows whatever process the employer has in place to adjust hours (e.g. an application for overtime form)? This way the only records that need to be reviewed each pay period, roster cycle, or twelve month period are the exception forms.
  • Can a generic Guarantee of Annual Earnings clause be sufficient to offset the annualised wage arrangements provisions? For example, can a clause that says that if at any time the employee’s earnings exceed the High Income Threshold then the employee agrees that they are the covered by a Guarantee of Annual Earnings and the relevant Modern Award no longer applies?

It’s still early days with this new requirement and perhaps we’ll start to see the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission publish in this space now that the initial systematic Annual Reconciliations are coming due.


Workday Logo

Workday acquires Peakon

By Business & Administration, Human Resources, Simon Says No Comments

Those of you who follow the Human Capital Management market will have read that Workday have acquired Peakon this week press release here. A move like this was inevitable with the shift to Human Experience Management (HXM) over the last couple of years with the conversation being led by the SAP SuccessFactors and Qualtrics ecosystem. It’ll be interesting to see how Workday incorporate Peakon’s technology into their product, how it’s priced, and how they’re going to spin Qualtrics’ recent IPO as a key differentiator with their product (continuing to spin of the “power of one” mantra the sales team rely upon).

An area that workday can likely get ahead is deep integration. The promises of deep integrations between SAP SuccessFactors and Qualtrics haven’t entirely been met, and the separation of Qualtrics from the SAP banner, spinning off on its own, is something that Workday ought to jump on immediately. Workday ought to be working with some key implementation partners on demonstration environments that meet customers’ HXM needs now to demonstrate how the Peakon technology, embedded within Workday, can deliver on some areas that are difficult to build-out using the SAP SuccessFactors and Qualtrics ecosystem.

Workday, however, still need to work heavily on the time and attendance limitations within their product, particularly if they are going to make a dent on the large industrial businesses that rely on rosters, contractors, and a workforce dispersed across geographies. SAP SuccessFactors isn’t strong in this space either, however SAP have a strong partnership with UKG Kronos integrating their Workforce Dimensions product in a meaningful manner with SuccessFactors. Workday don’t yet offer anything similar, with the best current offering being an integration of a near end-of-life Kronos product, white-labelled as “e-time” and sold with ADP‘s payroll solution. The problem here (ignoring the end-of-life issues) is that the integration is shallow and transacts on a lot of out-of-date information.

The acquisition of Peakon is an excellent move by Workday to get in front of the HXM marketplace, however the product still has some development required to get ahead in the time and attendance space.

If you have an interest in the HCM/HXM market and are currently looking for your next employment opportunity, I’m currently recruiting to fill a number of project roles on an exciting global HCM/HXM transformation for the Glencore Copper business. Details of the project and the roles being recruited for can be found here.

Glencore logo

Global HCM/HXM Project Recruitment: Glencore Copper

By Business & Administration, Human Resources, Simon Says No Comments

 note: This post originally appeared on LikedIn and is reproduced in a different format below.

In December I was given the amazing opportunity to lead one of the most exciting people-tech transformation projects of 2021 and beyond. In February we’ll be commencing the project in Australia as phase one – recruitment is now underway.

The project is focused on building a Human Capital Management / Human Experience Management (HCM / HXM) ecosystem for Glencore’s global copper business that will transform the way in which the Company and its workers engage. The technology mix is driven by SAP SuccessFactors and includes both Kronos Workforce Dimensions and Qualtrics products. These will integrate with existing corporate systems to modernise HRPayroll, and Training enabling a shift from transactional Human Resources Management to end-to-end employee experiences and empowering a more flexible, engaged workforce and a more resilient business.

Project Employment Opportunities

We’re currently recruiting to start filling out the “owner’s team” of the project. An overview of each role we’re looking to fill is included below, and I’ve got a LinkedIn post with dedicated links to these roles as well.

Change Lead

This is a leadership role on the project that will work closely with the implementation partner to define and deliver project change initiatives into the organisation. The role will supervise a small team in order to deliver the change initiatives required, and you’ll have the opportunity to recruit this small team upon commencement. This role is critical in ensuring the success of the transformation and assisting the organisation to be ready to receive the new solution.



Systems Integration and Testing Analyst

There are two Systems Integration and Testing Analyst roles we’re looking to fill that will be responsible for bespoke integrations not covered by the implementation partner, along with supporting the user acceptance testing process using test software from Audacix. A key deliverable will be the creation of test cases and scripts that can be reused across future phases of the project.



Data Migration Analyst

There are three Data Migration Analyst roles we’re looking to fill that will be responsible for data extraction and transformation ready for inclusion in the future-state technology mix. Source systems include Ellipse, Pronto, and Spreadsheets.



Technical Support Advisor

This role will work closely with all project members and the local operational IS&T teams to provide tech support within the project. This will include access provisioning across the various software environments, supporting network troubleshooting, and coordinating IS&T support between Glencore and the implementation partner.



Support Officer

This role will provide administrative support to the project team as well as being responsible for the administration of project files, project schedules, and scheduling supports.



Glencore Careers Portal

Visit the Glencore Careers Portal to view employment opportunities across the business.

About Me

Formal Portrait

I’m a full-stack HR professional with an interest in both strategic & operational human resources focusing on people-driven business transformation, particularly with a technology focus. I’ve been leading teams of experts for nearly two decades and have strong depth and breadth on transformation projects. I’ve worked on large-scale transformations including Virgin Australia‘s UNIFY project and QLD Health‘s SAP modernisation projects (Integrated Workforce Management Project, Integrated Safety Information Management Project, SAP HR MyHR Implementation Project etc.), through boutique transformations including LMS implementations and business process transformations.

I take a non-traditional approach to leadership, focusing heavily on servant leadership. I am committed to collaborative mentoring throughout the project life-cycle and recognising the valuable contributions of all.

There’s more information about me in my LinkedIn profile and on my About Me page on this website.

Podcast Screenshot

David Epstein On Why Generalists Are More Successful Than Specialists

By Business & Administration, Simon Says No Comments

This was a really enjoyable podcast episode and is a great listen for anyone interested in their own Full Stack Human Resources journey.

Podcast Logo ScreenEpisode description
Studying the world’s most successful athletes, artists, musicians, inventors and scientists, David Epstein demonstrates why in most fields – especially those that are complex and unpredictable – generalists, not specialists are primed to excel. No matter what you do, where you are in life, whether you are a teacher, student, scientist, business analyst, parent, job hunter, retiree, you will see the world differently. You’ll understand better how we solve problems, how we learn and how we succeed. You’ll see why failing a test is the best way to learn and why frequent quitters end up with the most fulfilling careers. The podcast was hosted by Linda Yueh.

Subscribe to Intelligence Squared Business (Apple | Web | RSS ).
Download David’s book Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World (WebLibro.fmAmazon | Audible | Library Genesis)