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Changes to the Clerks Award flexibility during the coronavirus outbreak

The Fair Work Commission has inserted a temporary Schedule l effective from an employees first full pay cycle on or after 28th March 2020 until 30 June 2020. The changes affected are:


1. employees’ classifications and duties

2. minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees

3. span of hours changes while working at home

4. full-time and part-time employees' hours of work

5. directions to take annual leave.

1. Employee Classifications and Duties


Employers can direct their employees to do any tasks that they have the skill, competency, qualifications and licences for, even if those tasks aren’t in their usual classification or normal work.


If an employee is directed to work above their usual classification for more than one day, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate.


Employees who do tasks below their usual classification are still paid at their usual pay rate.

2. Minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees


Part-time employees who have agreed to work from home can have their minimum engagement reduced to 2 hours per shift (rather than 3 hours) and casual employees who have agreed to work from home must be paid for a minimum of 2 hours (rather than 3 hours).


3. Span of hours while working from home


Where an employee is working from home the span of hours has changed to:


6am and 11pm, Monday to Friday

7am and 12.30pm, Saturday.


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


Employers can temporarily reduce their permanent employee’s hours of work to not less than 75% of their full-time ordinary hours or agreed part-time hours immediately prior to the reduction.


There needs to be a least 75% of staff (in the business or section of the business affected) to vote yes to a reduction in hours of work.


The employer needs to follow these steps for the vote to be valid:


  • If any employee is a known member of a union, let the union know about the vote.

  • Provide the employees with the contact details for the Australian Services Union (ASU), f they wish to contact the ASU for advice.

  • 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.

  • 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 for find other work. An employer must also consider all reasonable requests for training, professional development or study leave.


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


An employer and employee can also individually agree in writing to reduce the employee's hours.


5. Direction to take Annual Leave


Employers can direct an employee to take annual leave, giving 1 weeks’ notice (a shorter notice is allowed where both parties agree).


Where a business is closing down for a period due to coronavirus and an employee does not have enough paid leave entitlements, all or part of the leave can be taken as unpaid leave. However, any period of unpaid leave is to count as service for entitlements under the Clerks Award and National Employment Standards.


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.


For help in re-organising your work force to cope with the coronavirus affects on your business contact me directly at justine@esshr.com.au.


Further information can be found https://www.fairwork.gov.au/


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