The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (represented by ABLA) and Ai Group have today secured a package of variations to a variety of awards in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In contested proceedings, the joint employer application secured a raft of ongoing amendments to the Clerks - Private Sector Award 2010. In the proceedings immediately following, the joint employer parties did not oppose the extension of “Schedule X” provisions in a large number of awards - permitting employees to take unpaid pandemic leave and to take double annual leave at half pay.
These variations follow on from consent variations that have also been secured in the past 48 hours with respect to COVID-specific schedules that have been extended in the Hospitality (General) Industry Award, the Restaurant Industry Award and the Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award (with ABLA acting for both the Restaurant and Catering Industry and motor trades associations with respect to these matters).
This raft of award variations demonstrates a continued preparedness by the Commission to respond to applications made during the COVID-19 crisis in a rapid, flexible yet procedurally fair manner
Clerks - Private Sector Award 2010
The Clerks Award affects the employment of more than 1.5 million workers, in almost all industries.
The variation to the Clerks Award extends the operation of Schedule I to 30 September 2020.
The Schedule permits:
- employees to work ordinary hours from home pursuant to an expanded spread of hours (6am to 10pm);
- employers to request the taking of annual leave (which employees cannot unreasonably refuse) provided employees retain a balance of two weeks annual leave;
- a reduction of employee hours by up to 25% for those employers who availed themselves of this provision before 1 July 2020.
These provisions are subject to additional safeguards, including that:
- any direction or request made under the Schedule cannot be unreasonable in the circumstances;
- to implement any arrangements under the Schedule, employers must consent to the Commission arbitrating any dispute that might arise about the Schedule’s operation (if a dispute is raised).
The Commission has extended the operation of Schedule X in 16 Awards for a variety of periods (most commonly until 31 July 2020 or until further Order of the Commission).
The change, which was made unopposed, entitles:
- any employee to take up to two weeks’ unpaid leave if the employee is required by government or medical authorities or on the advice of a medical practitioner to self-isolate and is consequently prevented from working; and
- agreement to be reached for an employee taking double annual leave on half pay, provided that the agreement is recorded in writing.
The Commission has expressed the provisional view that it will shortly extend the operation of this Schedule X in the remaining 81 awards where it appears until 30 September 2020.
ABLA will continue to communicate any updates as they are implemented.