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Temporary changes to Awards

In response to the impacts coronavirus is having on workplaces, the Fair Work Commission has made temporary changes to Awards to increase flexibility for employers and employees.

Awards currently varied include the Clerks Award, Hospitality Award, Fast Food Award, Restaurant Award and Vehicle Award.

Given the relevance of the Clerks Award across multiple industries, let’s overview the temporary changes to this one.

On 28 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) made a determination varying the Clerks Award. The determination inserted a temporary new Schedule (“Schedule I”), which applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 28 March until 30 June 2020. Schedule I adds award flexibility during the coronavirus outbreak for:

  • employees’ classifications and duties
  • minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees
  • span of hours changes while working at home
  • full-time and part-time employees’ hours of work
  • directions to take annual leave.

So what does this mean for employers? Take “employees’ classifications and duties” as an example.

While Schedule I applies, employers can request employees to do any tasks that they have the skill and competency for, even if those tasks aren’t in their usual classification or normal work. The task must be safe and the employee must have all the appropriate licenses and qualifications to perform the tasks.

If an employee is directed to work above their usual classification for more than one day, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate. Employees who are directed to perform tasks below their usual classification are paid at their usual pay rate.

Helpful, right? And there’s more opportunities for improved operational flexibility under “minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees”.

  • Part-time employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home can have their minimum engagement reduced from 3 hours per shift to 2 hours per shift.
  • Casual employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home must be paid for a minimum of 2 hours’ work per shift (rather than 3).

The right to change your employees’ duties or being able to negotiate to reduce minimum hours of engagement might be the difference between getting through this pandemic thing or having to let good people go. But with everything else going on, who’s got the time to keep across these temporary changes to Awards? We do…because HR is our business. Like a piece of this expertise? Call us for a complimentary chat or check out our FAQ page and we’ll show you how you can not only get through this, but come through the other side with a smarter, stronger and faster business.

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  • Bare Bones Consulting

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Note: Bare Bones Consulting provides HR services for employers. Employees seeking advice on workplace concerns should contact the Fair Work Infoline on 13 13 94.