The Clerks- Private Sector Award 2010 (the Clerks Award) has been varied to provide for greater operational flexibility in the face of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The changes commenced on 28 March 2020 and will operate until 30 June 2020 unless extended.
The amendments allow employees to be directed to perform duties within their skill and competency regardless of their classification provided the duties are safe, the employee is qualified to perform the duties and there is no reduction in pay. Provision has also been made for employees to work from home.
Part time and casual employees now have a 2 hour minimum period of engagement when working from home. Full time employees can request to work from home and the spread of ordinary hours has been extended from 6am to 11pm Monday to Friday and 7am to 12.30pm on Saturdays.
Full time and part time employees can agree to a temporary reduction in hours for a specified period of time for the whole or part of the workplace if 75% of the relevant employees vote in favour of the reduction. However, the reduction in hours cannot be more than 25 percent. Employees will continue to accrue entitlements at their ordinary hours of work prior to the agreement to reduce hours.
An employee can be directed to take accrued annual leave with 1 weeks’ notice, or less by agreement, provided the employer considers the employee’s personal circumstances. Agreement can be made to take twice as much annual leave at a proportionally reduced rate of pay for all or part of the period of leave.
Employers are able to close down operations or direct employees to take annual leave or unpaid leave if the employee does not have enough accrued leave by giving 1 weeks’ notice
Separate to these Award amendments an employer and an individual employee can still agree to reduce hours or for the employee to temporarily change from full time to part time hours.
The Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 (the Hospitality Award) and the Restaurant Industry Award 2010 (the Restaurant Award) have also been amended to allow for:
- a change in duties similar to the Clerks Award;
- a reduction of hours of work between 22.8 to 38 ordinary hours per week for full time employees and between 60 to 100% of part time employees’ usual weekly hours over the roster cycle (subject to consultation obligations);
- employees to be directed to take annual leave and the ability to take leave at half pay.
The Restaurant Award also has the ability to effect a close down on the same terms as the Clerks Award.
From 8 April 2020 some 99 other modern awards have been amended until 30 June 2020 with the addition of Schedule X which gives employees the ability to take 2 weeks unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay. Further changes to modern awards may be introduced in the face of the pandemic.
If you have employees covered by the Clerks Award, Hospitality Award or the Restaurant Award you should consider using this new award flexibility to assist the business navigate the impact of COVID-19.
If you have employees covered by other modern awards you should check whether Schedule X has been incorporated into the award and be aware of your additional obligations.
If you require any advice about the impact of these award amendments, or assistance managing your workforce in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, please contact Murdoch Lawyers Senior Associate Suzanne Wishart on 07 3164 1121 or 0459992236.