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Fair Work has amended the Clerks Award during coronavirus

On 28th March 2020 the Fair Work Commission made a determination varying the Clerks Award. Here are a few things it covers:

Minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees working from home

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).

Hours of work for full-time and part-time employees

During the period of coronavirus, employers can also temporarily reduce their permanent employees’ hours of work to not less than 75% of their full-time ordinary hours or agreed part-time hours immediately prior to the reduction. This can be for the whole business or a section of the business.

If an employer wants to reduce their employees’ hours, the employees will need to vote in favour of the reduction of hours. At least 75% of the full-time and part-time employees in the business or section of the business must approve the temporary reduction. The employer needs to follow these steps for the vote to be valid:

  1. If any employee is a known member of a union, let the union know about the vote.
  2. Provide the employees with the contact details for the Australian Services Union (ASU), if they wish to contact the ASU for advice.
  3. Email clerksaward@fwc.gov.au about the vote and provide the employees’ private email addresses. The Commission will email the employees the ASU COVID-19 Information Sheet.
  4. Hold a vote at least 24 hours after they have followed steps 1-3.

Any employee who has had their hours reduced can ask their employer for permission to:

  • find more work with another employer
  • access training, professional development and study leave through their employer.

An employer can’t unreasonably refuse an employee’s request to find other work. An employer must also consider all reasonable requests for training, professional development or study leave.

Employees working reduced hours under the temporary Schedule I will continue to accumulate their paid leave and termination of employment entitlements based on their ordinary hours of work before the reduced hours started.

Annual leave and close down of business

Employers can direct an employee to take annual leave by giving their employees at least 1 week’s notice (or any shorter period of notice that is agreed).

If the annual leave is because the business is closing down for a period due to coronavirus and an employee doesn’t have enough paid annual leave to cover the whole period, the employer can direct them to take unpaid leave.

If the business isn’t closing, the employer can only direct an employee to take annual leave if the:

  • employee still has at least 2 weeks of leave left after the direction
  • Employer considers the employee’s personal situation.

Span of hours changes while working at home

Employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home can make an agreement with their employer to change their span of hours to allow them to work between:

  • 6am and 11pm, Monday to Friday
  • 7am and 12.30pm, Saturday.

Employees can take up to twice as much annual leave at a proportionally reduced rate if their employer agrees.

Employees and employers can still agree to take annual leave at any time.

There are more details available here.

Please get in touch if you have any questions.

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