The Fair Work Commission has approved changes to the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 to provide greater flexibility in working arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These changes provide relief from some of the more restrictive provisions of the award with respect to hours of work and annual leave for the period from 28 March 2020 to 30 June 2020. The objectives are to help businesses through this difficult period and to maintain jobs.

The key changes are:

  1. The minimum daily engagement for a part-time or casual employee is reduced from 3 hours to 2 hours
  2. The span of hours within which employees can work ordinary hours when they are working from home by agreement with the employer has been increased to between 6.00 am and 11.00 pm (in lieu of 7.00 am to 7.00 pm) on Monday to Friday and remains from 7.00 am to 12.30 pm Saturday. This means that no penalty payments or shift loadings apply to ordinary hours worked outside the normal span of hours (between 6.00 am and 7.00 am and between 7.00 pm and 11.00 pm on Monday to Friday).
  3. Hours of work for a group of employees can be reduced by agreement to no less than 75% of normal hours with approval of at least 75% of the affected employees via a vote and following consultation with employees and, where applicable, their union representatives. The employer is required to provide the work email addresses of the employees who will be participating in the vote, to the Commission. The Commission will then distribute the ASU COVID-19 Information Sheet to the employees prior to the vote. The Commission shall list the name of the business on a register which will be accessible to the ASU, upon request, for the period when these COVID-19 arrangements are in operation. The employer is also required to provide employees with contact details for the ASU.
  4. Employers and individual employees may agree to take up to twice as much annual leave at a proportionately reduced rate for all or part of any agreed or directed period away from work, including any close-down.
  5. An employer may direct an employee to take any annual leave that has accrued, subject to considering the employee’s personal circumstances, by giving at least one week’s notice, or any shorter period of notice that may be agreed. A direction to take annual leave shall not result in an employee having less than 2 weeks of accrued annual leave remaining.
  6. An employer may require an employee to take annual leave as part of a close-down of its operations by giving at least one week’s notice, or part of its operations, or any shorter period of notice that may be agreed.

While any arrangement under this clause is operating, an employee continues to accrue entitlements (paid leave and termination entitlements) on the basis of their pre-existing employment contract and normal hours of work. An employee would also be entitled to a payment for any public holiday that they would have been entitled to under their pre-existing employment arrangement.

There are some other qualifiers and conditions in the provisions so you should look at the full clause – see link below.

See Schedule I at the (very end of the) Award