Clerks Award Flexibility Extended1 October 2020
The temporary Schedule I in the Clerks Award, which allows for additional flexibility during the COVID-19 outbreak, has been extended to 30 November 2020.
On 28 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) made a determination that amended the Clerks Award for the pay period from 28 March to 30 June 2020, allowing more flexibility in hours of work and annual leave.
On 30 June 2020, the FWC updated and extended Schedule I to 30 September 2020. Some provisions of Schedule I were removed from the Clerks Award, while others were updated and extended.
On 30 September 2020, the FWC extended Schedule I yet again – this time to 30 November 2020.
[Note that the changes to the Clerks Award don’t apply to employees who are covered by enterprise agreements]
Extended parts of Schedule I that apply until 30 November
Requirements of a direction under Schedule I
From the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020, any direction or request given by an employer under Schedule I has to be in writing; has to say that the employer agrees to FWC arbitration in case of dispute; and can’t be unreasonable.
Span of hours changes while working at home
Employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home can also agree to change their span of hours to allow them to work between:
- 6am and 10pm, Monday to Friday
- 7am and 12.30pm, Saturday
Hours of work for full-time and part-time employees
Under Schedule I, some employers have been able to temporarily reduce full-time and part-time employees’ ordinary hours of work for a specified period.
From the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020, employers can only use these reduction in hours provisions if they were already in place before 30 June 2020. Other employers need to follow the normal rules about hours of work in the Clerks Award. See Hours of work, breaks and rosters for more information.
Employers who have already reduced their employees' hours under Schedule I can continue to reduce the hours of work to not less than 75% of their full-time ordinary hours; or not less than 75% of their agreed part-time hours immediately prior to any reduction. This can be for the whole business or a section of the business.
If an employee has had their hours reduced, they may ask permission to find additional work with another employer. They may also request to access training, professional development and study leave. An employer can’t unreasonably refuse an employee’s request for find other work and must consider all reasonable requests for training, professional development or study leave.
Employers can request an employee takes annual leave under Schedule I if: the reasons are attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic; it is to help the employer prevent or minimise loss of employment; the request is in writing; the employee's personal situation is considered; the employee will still have at least two weeks’ accrued annual leave left; and the employer makes the request at least 72 hours before they want the employee’s annual leave to start.
The employee has to consider the request and can’t unreasonably refuse it.
If the employer agrees, an employee can take up to twice as much annual leave as they have accrued at a proportionally reduced rate.
Schedule I provisions that don’t apply after 30 June
The following provisions did apply from 28 March to 30 June 2020, but have been removed from Schedule I and no longer apply.
- Changing an employee’s duties
- Dropping the minimum engagement for part-time and casual work from three to two hours
- Removing the close down provisions
See the Fair Work Ombudsman's website for more detail about these changes.