Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, on Saturday 28 March 2020, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission temporarily varied the Clerks - Private Sector Award 2010 (Clerks Award) until 30 June 2020 (at this stage). The changes provide more flexibility for employers and employees.
Employers covered by the Clerks Award should take note of the following effective changes. Employers can:
- (a) now direct employees to perform alternate duties that are within their skill and competency. Payment rules apply if the work is above, or below, the employee's usual classification. Employers will need to observe individual employment contract terms and seek consent to vary where necessary.
- (b) now roster casual and part-time employees who are working from home for a minimum of two consecutive hours per shift (down from three hours).
- (c) with the agreement of permanent employees reduce employees' ordinary hours of work for a specified period not beyond 30 June 2020. At least 75% of the employees in the workplace (or in the relevant section of the workplace) must approve any agreement to temporarily reduce ordinary hours. This will be determined by a vote of employees. Certain rules apply to the conduct of the vote.
- (d) direct an employee to take annual leave with one week's notice (or less if the employee agrees). Employees can also agree to take up to twice as much annual leave at a proportionally reduced rate (i.e. employees can agree to take up to double the amount of leave at half the rate of pay).
This temporary Award variation does not prevent an employer and individual employee agreeing in writing to reduce the employee's hours of work or moving the employee temporarily from full-time to part-time hours.
Employees working reduced hours under the Award variation will continue to accumulate paid leave and termination of employment entitlements based on their ordinary hours of work prior to the commencement of the variation.
If an employer closes down their operations before 30 June 2020, they can direct employees to take annual leave. If an employee does not have enough annual leave to cover all, or part, of the close-down period, then the employer may direct the employee to take unpaid leave once their annual leave has been exhausted. Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions arising from the above or would like further advice or assistance about the risks and benefits of implementing these changes in your workforce.
Our team is actively monitoring and considering the implications of legal and regulatory developments in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find our COVID-19 collection here.
All information on this site is of a general nature only and is not intended to be relied upon as, nor to be a substitute for, specific legal professional advice. No responsibility for the loss occasioned to any person acting on or refraining from action as a result of any material published can be accepted.