In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and, in particular to support some of the hardest hit industries, the Fair Work Commission has approved temporary changes to the Clerks, Hospitality and Restaurant Awards. This follows joint applications for these changes made by employer groups and unions.
The welcome changes allow employers flexibility in applying a temporary reduction of hours, changing an employee’s duties and an allowance to enforce a direction of annual leave. The Clerks Award also allows for greater flexibility for an employer who has employees working from home. A brief snapshot of these changes is outlined below.
Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010
- Employers and full and part time employees can agree to a temporary reduction in ordinary hours of up to 25%
- Employers can direct an employee to do any tasks, even if the tasks aren’t in their usual classification or normal work. Obviously, the task must be safe and the employee must have the skill, qualifications and competency to complete the task. If an employee works above their usual classification for more than one day, the employee must receive payment at a higher rate.
- Part time and casual staff currently working from home can be engaged in a reduced minimum period of 2 hours per shift.
- Employees working from home can agree with their employer to change their span of hours to allow them to work Monday – Friday 6am – 11pm and Saturday 7am – 12:30pm.
- Employers can direct an employee to take annual leave by giving their employees at least 1 weeks notice.
- Employees can also agree to take up to twice as much annual leave at a proportionately reduced rate.
Changes to the Clerks- Private Sector Award 2010 apply from 28 March to 30 June 2020.
Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 & Restaurant Industry Award 2010
- Employers and employees can agree to reduce their permanent employees’ hours of work to an average of between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours each week for full time employees or between 60% and 100% of the guaranteed hours per week or over the roster cycle for part time employees.
- Employers can direct an employee to do any tasks, even if the tasks aren’t in their usual classification or normal work. Obviously, the task must be safe and the employee must have the skill, qualifications and competency to complete the task.
- Employers can direct an employee to take annual leave by giving their employees at least 24 hours notice
- Employers and employees can agree to take up to twice as much annual pay at half pay (Hospitality Award only)
- Employers can direct employees to take annual leave by giving them at least 1 week’s notice if a business is closing down for a certain period. If they do not have enough annual leave to cover they can receive unpaid leave for the remainder of the close down (Restaurant Industry Award only)
Changes to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 24 March until 30 June 2020
We suggest you familiarise yourself with the specific requirements of each of these changes by referring to the provisions in your Award. Alternatively, contact the Employee Matters team for advice.
Other Changes on the Horizon
As this situation continues to evolve and industries seek to ensure flexibility to help their businesses survive and protect their employees, we will see many of these changes coming through. There is currently an application underway which would see changes to 103 of the 122 industrial awards, after the Fair Work Commission identified a gap in current laws which resulted in employees not having a legal entitlement to self isolation for 14 days if their employers did not approve it. The proposed change would include access to two weeks of unpaid pandemic leave for all full time, part time or casual employees who were required to isolate on medical advice or government direction. Watch this space with regard to the Fair Work Commission’s application!
As the legal landscape continues to evolve in response to the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak it is imperative employers keep informed of changes that affect their industry and Award. For any help or general HR advice on how to navigate these changes, please contact the team at Employee Matters on (02) 8021 4206 – or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org