On 30 September, the Fair Work Commission extended the operation of Schedule I in the Clerks Private Sector Award until 30 November 2020.
Schedule I contains various provisions aimed at preserving the business viability during the COVID-19 pandemic. For administrative employees covered by this Award, subject to meeting all of the requirements in Schedule I, these provisions allow employers to:
1. Change the ordinary hours of work for employees working from home
Where employees are working from home by agreement, the ordinary hours can be worked between 6.00 am to 10.00 pm from Monday to Friday and between 7.00 am and 12.30 pm on Saturday.
It should also be noted that these changes only apply to day workers; the ordinary working hours for shift workers is unaffected by the above.
2. Agree with employees to a temporary reduction in ordinary hours
An employer, along with its full-time and part-time employees in a workplace or section, can agree to temporarily reduce the ordinary hours of work for these employees. Subject to meeting requirements for a valid vote, this reduction in ordinary working hours can be brought about if 75 % of the full-time and part-time employees agree to this temporary reduction.
Notably, this provision only applies to employers who before 30 June 2020 had temporarily reduced ordinary hours under Schedule I.
3. Request employees to take annual leave
Providing the request is made for reasons relating to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic slowdown, and subject to an employee’s personal circumstances, an employee can be requested to take annual leave. An employee is obliged to consider and not unreasonably refuse this request by the employer.
However, this request can only be made if it does not cause the employee to have less than 2 weeks of annual leave remaining.
Payment of wages on termination – variation to the Electrical, Electronic and Communications Award 2020
On 6 October, the Fair Work Commission amended clause 22.3 of the Electrical Award, which relates to payment of wages on termination. These changes will be effective from 13 October 2020 and can be summarised as follows:
In the event of termination, an employer must pay the employee all wages due up until the date of termination. These wages must be paid by the end of the next business day following termination. All other amounts due to an employee under the Electrical Award or National Employment Standards must be paid within 7 days of the termination date. These requirements to pay wages and other amounts can be relieved, by an order of the Fair Work Commission.