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Fair Work Commission changes award provisions to deal with COVID-19 issues

Australia’s Industrial Relations system working to manage disruption

The decision from the Fair Work Commission on Wednesday 25 March 2020 demonstrates that the industrial relations system is cooperating to manage the disruptions to business and employment which the COVID-19 pandemic has caused.

Special flexibility schedule approved for Australian Hotels Association

Application was made to the Fair Work Commission by the Australian Hotels Association, supported by the United Workers Union, seeking a special COVID-19 flexibility schedule for the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010.

The flexibility schedule which was approved to commence on 25 March 2020 allows employers to:

(a) direct an employee to perform any duties within their skills, licences and qualifications and competencies regardless of their classifications. Where an employee performs a higher classification, employees will be paid under the higher duties provisions of the Award.

(b) direct a full-time employee to work an average between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours per week and be paid pro-rata ,with overtime pro-rata .

(c) direct part time employees to work an average of between 60% and 100% of their guaranteed hours per week or an average per week over the roster cycle.

What steps must be followed?

Employers must follow the consultation provisions in the Award and, for union member employees, employers are to notify the United Workers Union of the intention to introduce the changes.

Employees will continue to accrue their annual leave and personal leave entitlements based on the employee’s ordinary hours of work before the flexibility schedule and will .be able to take leave based on their ordinary hours of work before the new schedule.

An employer will be permitted, after considering an employee’s personal circumstances, to direct an employee to take annual leave with 24 hours’ notice and will allow employers and employees to agree for an employee to take twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay for all or part of the annual leave period.

Scheme to run until the end of June

The flexibility schedule will expire on 30 June 2020, with the possibility of further extension.

Consultations with other industry sectors ongoing

Other employer associations and their respective unions are consulting about further changes to modern awards used by businesses across Australia.



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Please note that this article has been prepared by Margaret Miller, partner of Bell Legal Group, for information purposes only. It is not legal advice nor should it be relied upon as such.