COVID-19 amendments to Fast Food Award

Employers and unions have negotiated a series of temporary amendments to the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 to preserve jobs and the viability of businesses during the COVID-19 crisis.

The proposed award variations are the outcome of lengthy discussions between Ai Group, the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers Union over the past couple of weeks.

On Friday afternoon, Ai Group filed an application with the Fair Work Commission to vary the Award.

On Sunday 3 May, a Full Bench of the Commission issued a Statement expressing the provisional view that the changes should be approved. The matter has been listed for a hearing on Tuesday.

The proposed amendments to the Award apply to employers and employees who are not entitled to the Federal Government’s JobKeeper scheme. The changes are intended to provide those employers who cannot use the flexibilities available under t’e legislative scheme with mechanisms that will assist in moderating the adverse impact that the COVID-19 crisis is having on the fast food industry and will help minimise job losses.

The amendments:

  • Provide for flexible part-time employment arrangements that may be implemented with an employee’s agreement;
  • Allow employers to request that employees take annual leave for reasons attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic or government initiatives to slow the transmission of the virus, so long as the employee retains a balance of 2 weeks’ annual leave. Employees must consider the request and must not unreasonably refuse;
  • Allow employers who close down operations for reasons attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic or government initiatives to slow the transmission of the virus to require employees to take leave having regard to their personal circumstances;
  • Allow employees who are placed on unpaid leave to request to take on secondary employment, training or professional development. Employers must consider these requests and cannot unreasonably refuse them.

Comments from Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the Australian Industry Group:

“It is in everyone’s interests to preserve the viability of businesses and preserve as many jobs as possible during the COVID-19 crisis, and this is the objective of the proposed award variations.

“The fast food industry is one of the biggest employers of young people in Australia, and young people are particularly vulnerable in economic downturns,” said Mr Willox.

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