Managing the impact of COVID-19 for your business and employees
Over the last few months as the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to evolve, the impact continues for business.
The restrictions imposed to minimise the risk of the virus in the community has meant many businesses have had to change how they operate, reduce hours of operation, or shut down resulting in a need for employment arrangements to be more flexible and adaptable to meet these changed conditions.
Amendments to the Fair Work Act
In April this year, the Fair Work Act was amended to support the implementation and operation of the JobKeeper scheme in Australian workplaces – providing benefit to both business and their employees.
The Fair Work Act JobKeeper provisions apply to employers who qualify for the scheme and their eligible employees. The provisions commenced from 9 April for a period of 6 months and end on 28 September 2020.
Under these provision, eligible employers can make ‘JobKeeper-enabling directions’:
- Stand down an employee (including by reducing hours or days of work),
- Change an employee’s usual duties,
- Change an employee’s location of work,
- Request employees to take paid annual leave (in certain conditions.
For more information on these amendments and how this may apply to your business, visit Fair Work.
Amendments to Modern Awards
In March 2020, the Fair Work Commission made temporary changes to several Modern Awards to increase award flexibility to be responsive to the impacts of COVID-19.
Further variations were made to 99 awards to provide unpaid pandemic leave and greater flexibility for annual leave for employees including:
- Access to 2 weeks’ unpaid ‘pandemic leave’
- Take additional annual leave at half pay.
Temporary amendments were also made to the Clerks – Private Sector Award to provide more flexibility for remote working arrangements, directions around the taking of annual leave and reducing hours of work.
Increased flexibility under Modern Awards
Several Modern Awards have been temporarily varied to allow for additional flexibility as a result of COVID-19. The new Schedules in the awards provide flexibility for:
- employees’ classifications and duties
- minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees
- span of hours changes while working at home
- full-time and part-time employees’ hours of work
- directions to take annual leave.
The current amendments to the Modern Awards are currently in place until 30 June 2020, unless extended further. Find out more information on current variations:
- Restaurant Award flexibility during coronavirus
- Clerks Award flexibility during coronavirus
- Hospitality Award flexibility during coronavirus
- Educational Services (Schools) General Staff Award flexibility during coronavirus
- Vehicle Award changes during coronavirus.
Understand your obligations as an employer
If you would like more information regarding the Awards and how this may apply to your business and employees, contact us to to discuss your particular situation. Get in touch today via email, or call 07 3348 3666 and we’ll be ready to assist.