Clerks Award flexibility during outbreak of coronavirus

On 28 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) made a determination varying the Clerks Award. The determination inserted a temporary new Schedule, which applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 28 March until 30 June 2020. Schedule I adds award flexibility during the coronavirus outbreak 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 Commission may extend when Schedule I operates until, if necessary. We’ll update our information if that happens.

The following changes apply under Schedule I, for employers and employees covered by the Clerks Award.

Change in duties

While Schedule I applies, employers can tell their employees to do any tasks that they have the skill and competency for, even if those tasks aren’t in their usual classification or normal work. The task must be safe and the employee must have all the appropriate licenses and qualifications to perform the tasks.

If an employee is told to work above their usual classification for more than one day, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate.

Employees who do tasks below their usual classification are still paid at their usual pay rate.

Example: Employee directed to do tasks at a lower level

Alejandro is an office manager at a plumbing business. He manages a team of 2 administrative assistants. 1 of his team members is required to self-isolate for 14 days due to an enforceable government order.

Alejandro’s employer would normally hire a temporary employee to replace the team member, but the business is quieter because of coronavirus.

Instead, the employer directs Alejandro to perform some work at a lower level while his team member is not at work.

Alejandro is paid at his usual pay rate for all the hours he works.

Minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees working from home

Part-time employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home can have their minimum engagement reduced from 3 hours per shift to 2 hours per shift.

Casual employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home must be paid for a minimum of 2 hours’ work per shift (rather than 3).

Span of hours changes while working at home

Employees who have agreed with their employer to work from home can make an agreement with their employer to change their span of hours to allow them to work between:

  • 6am and 11pm, Monday to Friday
  • 7am and 12.30pm, Saturday.

Employers don’t need to agree with a majority of their employees to make these changes.

Day workers won’t be considered shiftworkers for entitlements under the Clerks Award while these arrangements are in place.

Hours of work for full-time and part-time employees

Employers can temporarily reduce their permanent employees’ hours of work to not less than 75% of their full-time ordinary hours or agreed part-time hours immediately prior to the reduction. This can be for the whole business or a section of the business.

If an employer wants to reduce their employees’ hours, the employees will need to vote in favour of the reduction of hours. At least 75% of the full-time and part-time employees in the business or section of the business must approve the temporary reduction. The employer needs to follow these steps for the vote to be valid:

  1. If any employee is a known member of a union, let the union know about the vote.

/Public Release. View in full here.