PART 1: Job classification: and pay increases

This article is the first instalment of a 2-part series looking at Job classification and Progression

Setting correct and appropriate wages through job classification structures is not an entirely objective task. Different employers will have different views on the value and level where certain jobs lie. Because of this, employees looking to move up the classification structure can find this process difficult. 

In part 1 of this article, we identify some key terms to help you to navigate job classifications, and considerations that may arise when making a claim for reclassification.

What is a job classification structure? 

Job classification structures are designed to organise and categorise employees within a workplace based on their 'work value', that is the overall tasks, responsibilities, skills and duties associated with a specific job.

A job classification structure is a common clause within individual contracts, awards or enterprise agreements. In addition, many large organisations adopt job classification structures for their administrative, professional and other staff similarly based on relevant work value factors.

The objective is to determine the value of jobs in a fair, systematic and consistent manner across the organisation.

Why is a structure important?

A classification structure is important because it helps identify the relevant requirements of the job such qualifications, skills, job knowledge, and responsibilities.  Appropriate salaries are set according to the totality of these requirements.

Which level do I fit?

Where there is a mix of job functions, the ‘best fit’ process is applied with regard to the essential features of the job and what level applies.
Job classification levels are set according to what is required of the employee in the job – their qualifications, skills, job knowledge, and responsibilities imposed and required should the employee get something wrong, and so on.
The time involved on each aspect of a job doesn’t necessarily indicate what level might apply although it may be a consideration.

How do I progress?

Often, there is a system of progression at certain classification levels that recognise your value to the employer as you become more skilful and profitable in your job.

More experienced employees tend to become more confident in performing their job and therefore more prepared to undertake greater responsibilities. Where there is no automatic progression, it will be necessary for the employee to seek to be reclassified to a higher level. You will need to demonstrate that that your job has changed, and now requires greater responsibility and/or higher order skills.

For example – let us consider responsibility level. Your employer must consider the extent to which you make decisions and the level of those decisions. The consequences of getting a decision wrong is an important consideration.  The extent to which the decision maker can share responsibility is another factor. 

In this case, your employer might consider:

Do you have the skills and knowledge to make significant decisions autonomously and how often will you need to make these decisions? Or
Will you need convenient access to consult superiors or other appropriate and experienced people to make significant decisions?


Awards, enterprise agreements and other industrial instruments generally have a salary structure tied to an employee's work value factors such as skills required by and responsibilities imposed on the position/role.
It is the skills and work abilities required by the position which are usually relevant when assessing work value, not the skills and abilities of the position incumbent. There are exceptions where an employer wants flexibility and is prepared to pay employees for higher order skills even though these may neither be required by the position description nor be utilised very often.

Don Moss
Senior Industrial Advisor – Professionals Australia
This publication is general information only and is not intended to be used as legal advice or a substitute for legal advice.