The unprecedented circumstances imposed on us by COVID-19 has necessitated innovative solutions. The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has been working with parties to facilitate greater flexibility in working and leave arrangements.
The Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010, which applies to all clerical employees undertaking work within the classifications in the Award has been temporarily amended by adding a new Schedule to provide for greater flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the temporary changes?
The below temporary changes apply from the first full pay period on or after 28 March 2020:
- Employees may request and employers may agree to ordinary working hours from home being worked between 6am to 11pm, Monday to Friday, and 7am to 12.30pm Saturday.
- When working from home part-time and casual employees may, by agreement, work a minimum 2 hour shift.
- Employees may elect to take annual leave at half pay.
- Operational flexibility – an employer may direct, where necessary, an employee to perform any duties that are within their skill and competency regardless of classification under the Award, provided the duties are safe, and the employee is licensed and qualified to perform them.
- Agreed temporary reduction in ordinary hours – an employer can seek to reduce employee working hours in the workplace or section for a specified period. The employer can seek to reduce hours of work by up to 25% of the employee’s normal working hours, provided it is approved by at least 75% of the employees affected. Where such an agreement is reached, paid leave accruals will occur as though no reduction has taken place and termination entitlements remain unchanged. Where an employer seeks to pursue this action, there is a required process to be followed as is set out below.
- Employers must give 1 weeks’ notice to require an employee to take annual leave during a close down period.
What if my workplace has an Enterprise Agreement?
Employers who have an Enterprise/Workplace/Collective Agreement in place may not be affected by the above temporary changes and should seek advice about what flexibilities may be available to them. It may be necessary to seek a temporary variation to such Agreements to be able to achieve the same or similar flexibilities temporarily available under the Award. Urgent applications to vary Agreements due to COVID-19 are able to be made and Providence HR can facilitate these for clients.
Mazars Australia – everything you need in one place
If your business is experiencing difficulties due to the impact of COVID-19 we are here to help. Our unique offering of HR Consulting, Accounting and Business Advisory means we can work with you collaboratively as a multi-disciplinary team to provide all the advice and assistance your business needs to navigate these unchartered waters.
Are these my only options?
In short, no. If you would like to explore other options which may be available to your workplace, please contact us directly for assistance.
Temporary hours reduction process
To seek the approval of employees to reduce their ordinary hours, the following must occur 24 hours prior to the vote taking place:
- If an affected employee is a known union member the union must be informed;
- The employer must provide contact details of the Australian Services Union;
- The employer must notify the Fair Work Commission by emailing email@example.com that a vote will be conducted and provide to the Commission the email address of each employee who is to participate in the vote. The Commission will then distribute an ASU COVID-19 information sheet prior to the vote to the employees, and record the name of the employer’s business in a register accessible to the ASU, upon request, for the period the temporary Schedule is in operation.
The vote cannot take place until at least 24 hours after the above requirements have been met.
If you would like to discuss your options or need advice, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07 3218 3919.
Please note that this publication is intended to provide a general summary and should not be relied upon as a substitute for personal advice.