COVID-19: Fair Work Changes announced to Hospitality and Clerks Awards

Posted on 3/4/2020


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As Australian employers continue to face considerable daily challenges brought about by COVID-19, the Fair Work Commission recently moved to vary the Awards for hospitality workers and private sector clerks to provide businesses with greater flexibility in responding to the crisis.

With the COVID-19 situation continuing to develop on a daily basis, many businesses have found it difficult to keep up to speed with the current advice and regulations being implemented at a federal and state level, creating significant complexities in workforce management.

These changes, which came into effect on March 24 and are operational through 30 June 2020 (which may be extended), cover the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 and Clerks Private Sector Award 2010 and are aimed at creating greater flexibility in leave arrangements, hours of work and working from home arrangements.


Summary of Changes


Hospitality Award

The changes introduced to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 are focused on flexibility and job retention.

Through proper consultation between employers and employees, the amendments will allow:

  • employees to work more flexibly across classifications, provided it is safe to do so and the employee has the necessary qualifications;
  • full-time employees to work an average of 22.8 to 38 ordinary hours per week, as directed by their employer;
  • part-time workers to work an average 60% of their guaranteed weekly hours;
  • employers to direct employees to take annual leave upon 24 hours’ notice; and
  • employers and employees to agree that annual leave can be taken at half pay.

While these changes will obviously lead to some employees earning less as a result of a reduction in hours and a reduced pay while on leave, it is hoped that it will increase the ability of employers to keep their workers in secure jobs, even at reduced capacity during the virus event.


Clerks Award

Like the temporary amendments to the Hospitality Award, the changes the Clerks Private Sector Award (2010) are focussed on flexibility for employers and workers, and rely on proper consultation between both parties.

The changes are as follows:

  • By a 75% majority vote from employees, full time and part time employees in a workplace, or part of a workplace, may agree to temporarily reduce ordinary hours for a specified period for the whole workplace or relevant part of it.
  • Employers and employees may agree to take twice as much annual leave at half the rate.
  • Employers will be able to direct employees to take annual leave upon one weeks’ notice or any shorter period as agreed. 
  • Employees may work more flexibly across classifications, provided it is safe to do so and the employee has the necessary qualifications.
  • Employees and employers may agree to change ordinary hours of work while an employee is working at home (where work hours are reduced, the ordinary hourly rate will remain the same).

The changes to the Clerks Award provide a variety of options for both employees and employers to manage the impacts of COVID-19. For those businesses that have seen a reduction in revenue or productivity, it also provides the necessary flexibility to ensure that they can keep their people employed.


If you would like any more information about these changes, or how they might apply to your business or your employees, contact Cecilia White, Director Perks People Solutions via the contact form HERE.

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