COVID-19 Changes to Clerks Award

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

COVID-19 changes to Hospitality Award

Are you ready for annualised wage obligations next week?

From 1 March 2020, new annualised wage provisions come into operation in many modern awards. They impose new and significant obligations on employers which in many cases will not be welcomed by employees. For example, you will be required to ensure that your employees record their starting and finishing times and their lunch breaks even if that is counter to your workplace value of trusting your people to do the right thing or something that you do not see as appropriate in your professional office. See our previous article for more details on the new obligations here.

The good news is that the Fair Work Commission has left the door open if you want to take an alternative approach via a common law contract. Here is what it said: “Employers may, pursuant to private contractual arrangements, pay employees in accordance with a salary arrangement that compensates for or “buys out” identified award entitlements without engaging with the annualised wage arrangements provision in the applicable award.” 

Of course, you still need to ensure that your employees are better off overall than they would be if they were paid strictly in accordance with all award conditions (not just the minimum rates). If that is true in your case and there is no potential for your employee’s annualised salary (whether expressed as a fixed annual or weekly or fortnightly or monthly amount) to fall below that total award entitlement, properly drafted set off clauses in your employment contracts will enable you to legally avoid “engaging with the annualised wage arrangements provision in the applicable award.

We can help you with that at a very affordable price – just $250 plus GST per contract. Of course, we will need you to show us that you are not in danger of underpaying people against award entitlements first – after all, we don’t want to be an accessory to an underpayment of wages.

If you want to engage us to assist with this, contact us here or call Peter Maguire on 0438 533 311.

Advice for fire affected businesses

Extension of coverage of Victorian Portable Long Service Leave Scheme

On and from 1 January 2020, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and certain children’s services providers come under the Portable Long Service Benefits Scheme.

From that date, an activity funded by the NDIS, as well as services provided by licensed children’s services and approved providers under the Education and Care Services National Law, are included in the scheme as community services work.

This means that eligible employers, with workers undertaking these types of work, will need to register with the Portable Long Service Authority by 31 March 2020.

More information is available at https://www.vic.gov.au/portable-long-service-community-services-sector

Excellent opportunity in Sales Administration and Customer Service

  • Established homewares market leader who are still growing
  • Friendly team environment with strong family values
  • Convenient location near Eastlink with off street parking

Do you have excellent customer service skills? Want to work in a better workplace where people come first and with good pay and conditions? Hands up!!

The business

Our client  is a market leader in wholesale wall art and homewares in both local and international markets.

The business has been around for over 40 years and is continuing to grow with over 40 staff located at company headquarters in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs.

There is also new investment occurring to take the business to the next level and to make it an even better place to work.

The job

Customer Services and Sales Administration is a pivotal role in this business.

As a member of the Customer Service and Administration team, you will use your excellent customer service skills to assist customers via phone and email communications. You will also be involved in general sales administration and data processing as well as helping out with events and other office tasks as needed.

The attributes that you will need to be successful in the role are:

  • Excellent relationship management skills
  • The ability to listen and communicate effectively both verbally and in writing
  • Competency in data processing and use of MS Office programs
  • Good learning capabilities with the capacity to develop and use knowledge of company products and processes to efficiently meet business and customer needs
  • Attention to detail and accuracy in recording
  • A strong sense of personal accountability with the ability to manage your own workload and determine priorities
  • A team player who is transparent, supports others and actively participates in team activities. 

Ideally, you will bring with you a number of years of success in similar functions in a wholesale trade environment.

The Benefits

There is a very competitive remuneration package on offer for the right candidate.

You will also be working in a family orientated business where people are valued and supported and you will have the benefits of a modern well-lit office environment with off street parking, just a few minutes from Eastlink.

It really is a better place to work. 

How to apply

You will show us that you really want this job by providing a cover letter that specifically addresses each of the attributes listed above as well as your resume. Send them to enquiries@ridgelinehr.com.au.