On Saturday 28 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) full bench (presided by President Iain Ross, Deputy President Richard Clancy and Commissioner Michelle Bissett) granted a joint application made by the Ai Group and Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 26 March 2020 to insert a COVID-19 flexibility schedule in the Clerks Private Sector Award (Award). The application was supported by the Australian Services Union and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Similar to the recent changes made to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award, the variation enables employees to work across classifications and duties provided they have the correct qualifications.
The variation to the Award also:
- enables employers to engage casual and part-time employees for shorter shifts, namely a minimum of 2 hours;
- gives employers flexibility to reduce hours for full and part-time employees, and allows employees whose hours are reduced to take on other employer or ask to engage in training or study;
- allows employees and employers to agree to change ordinary hours of work whilst an employee is working at home, without employers incurring additional costs for work being conducted out of usual business hours;
- permits employers to direct employees to take annual leave;
- permits employers and employees to agree to taking leave such as double leave at half-pay; and
- enables employers with one weeks’ notice to direct an employee to take annual leave if it decides to shut down its business.
The variation to the Award will expire on 30 June 2020, although the period of operation can be extended on application to the FWC.
Whilst yet to be determined by the FWC, the Restaurant & Catering Association and United Workers Union made a similar joint application today to vary the Restaurants Industry Award 2010. The variations sought build on the changes in the Hospitality Award, however go further by providing more flexibility for employers that are unable to make the transition to takeaway and delivery.
It is anticipated that similar applications may be made in respect of other Modern Awards.
For more information on this Award variation, please contact a member of our Workplace Relations team.
In case you missed it, we have also produced a Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs for Employers to assist with managing your workforce during this time.
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