Recently Fair Work has made changes to the Clerks – Private Sector Modern Award.  These changes are to assist businesses face the issues raised through the COVID–19 pandemic.

One of the main temporary amendments is around being able to expect your staff to do tasks previously was outside their scope.  Until 30 June 2020 staff, under this award, can be directed to perform tasks within their competency and skill.  This can also mean duties that are normally performed by staff categorized at a lower level, as long as the duties are safe and the employee is qualified to perform them. 

During this time an employer cannot reasonable refuse an employee’s request to find other work.  An employer must also consider all reasonable requests from employees in respect to training, professional development or study leave.

Another big temporary change is that if 75% of full time and part time employees vote to temporarily reduce their hours then the business can run at that temporary level.  If this is the case any Unions and or the Fair Work Commission must be notified of this temporary change. The vote can not vote on a reduction of more than 25%.   The employees hourly rate will not reduce. For example:

  • A full time employee working 5 days per week could have their days reduced to 4 days per week.
  • A Part time employee working 5 days per week could have their days reduced to 3 days per week.

One consideration, if you are operating under, say, the Call Centre Award and the Clerks award then (at this point) the vote can only effect those under the Clerks – Private Sector Award.

It is also possible for an employer and employee to agree to reduce hours or have an employee move temporarily from full time to part time and their wages will reflect that temporary change.

Many of us have had to contemplate the issues around employees working from home.  To help employees balance their work/life balance during this stressful time the spread of hours can be changed by agreement.

The following changes can be agreed too

  • Full time employees span of hours
    • Monday to Friday 6am to 11pm
    • Saturday 7am to 12.30pm
  • Part time employees span of hours
    • Are required to be rostered for a minimum of two hours (down from 3) when working from home and must be paid over time when work more than 38 hours per week or if the roster averages the employee out to be more than 38 hours in a working week.
  • Casual employees
    • Can be engaged for a minimum of two hours (also down from 3) when working from home.

Employers and employees may agree to the taking of up to twice as much annual leave at a proportionately reduced rate, including during any close-down.

An employer may direct an employee to take any accrued annual leave, by giving at least one week’s notice, or any shorter period as agreed. A direction to take annual leave shall not result in an employee having less than two weeks of accrued annual leave remaining.

In the case of a business needing to consider a close-down of its operations, or part of its operations, an employee can be directed to take annual leave, as long as one weeks’ notice is given.

During a close down an employee can be directed to take all of their annual leave and then will be given leave without pay for the remainder.

Want to know more? Give us a call on 1800 577 515 or email at info@assurancehr.com.au. Alternatively you can book a video chat at https://calendly.com/adrian-ahr/book-a-15-minute-chat

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