COVID-19 | AWARDS FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

1) Changes affecting all awards
      i) Unpaid pandemic leave - two weeks of unpaid pandemic leave
      ii) Changes to annual leave
2) Specific awards affected by additional changes
      i) Restaurant award
      ii) Clerks award
      iii) Hospitality award
3) The Job Keeper Payment

Scenario 1 | Working at a Higher Classification
Scenario 2 | Minimum hours reduction for part-time employees working from home

 

1) Changes affecting all awards

Changes have been made to 99 awards by the fair work commission. These changes are considered temporary (from 08/04/2020 until 30/06/2020 unless extended) but have made the following options available to employees (as outlined by the Fair Work Ombudsman).

i) Unpaid pandemic leave - two weeks of unpaid pandemic leave

The Fair Work Ombudsman has outlined the scenarios where employees would be able to apply and take unpaid pandemic leave. Should this occur organisations may want to track this within their rosters for this period. To achieve this, the following actions will need to be taken. 

  1. Add a new entitlement titled "Pandemic Leave"
  2. Add a new leave type titled "Unpaid Pandemic Leave"
  3. Add the new entitlement and leave type to the base award pay groups for users that require it (or all base award pay groups if required)

ii) Changes to annual leave

According to fair work employees are able to take their annual leave at half pay to effectively double their time off work. This can only occur if their employer agrees. There are multiple ways to handle this in easyemployer, with the two most simple options being:

  1. Creating a new leave type linked to the annual leave entitlement that pays at 50% the normal rate.
  2. Asking employees to submit leave for half days with the understanding that it represents the full day.  

The configuration of a new leave type will make the account neater in the short term but will mean the leave type will need to be removed or hidden in the future. While asking users to change how they submit leave requires management to understand that a half day of leave actually represents a full day of leave. Many organisations may choose different options that suit their circumstances.

 

2) Specific awards affected by additional changes

Some awards have been adjusted by the Fair Work Commission to provide some additional flexibility during this pandemic.

Currently, the Fair Work Ombudsman, has made additional changes applicable to three (3) awards in particular - see below. To remain updated with any further changes to awards please check the Fair Work Website

i) Restaurant award

  • Change in duties: 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. When an employee works at a higher classification for less than 2 hours, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate for the hours worked. If the employee works at a higher classification for 2 hours or more, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate for the whole day.
  • Employers can reduce their permanent employees' hours of work so that they work an average of: between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours each week for full time employees, between 60% and 100% of the guaranteed hours per week or over the roster cycle for part-time employees.
  • Annual leave and closing of business provisions (and further information) see this Fair Work Article.

ii) Clerks award

  • 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.  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.
  • 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
  • Span of hours changes, general working hours changes, annual leave and close down of business provisions (and further information) see this Fair Work Article.

iii) Hospitality award

  • Change in duties: 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. When an employee works at a higher classification for less than 2 hours, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate for the hours worked. If the employee works at a higher classification for 2 hours or more, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate for the whole day
  • Employers can reduce their permanent employees' hours of work so that they work an average of: between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours each week for full time employees, between 60% and 100% of the guaranteed hours per week or over the roster cycle for part-time employees
  • Annual leave and closing of business provisions (and further information) see this Fair Work Article.

 

3) The Job Keeper Payment

The Job Keeper payment is not tracked or processed in easyemployer. The Job Keeper payment needs to be completed in the payroll application. Please consult with guides provided by the payroll application provider on how to handle this process in their software:

MYOB

Xero

 


Scenario 1 | Working at a higher classification

  • When an employee works at a higher classification for less than 2 hours, the employers needs to pay the employee at a higher rate for the hours worked. If the employee works at a higher classification for 2 hours or more, the employer is required to pay the higher rate for the whole day.
  • In easyemployer this functionality is not automated. There is a feature available that when configured can assign role rates. Role rates may not be available in all accounts and may require additional configuration to function. Some payroll applications and account configurations are not compatible with this feature, please contact support for information regarding setup and configuration. See the help centre article on "Role Rates" for more information on this feature. 

 


Scenario 2 | Minimum hours reduction for part-time employees working from home

  • Part-time employees that have agreed with their employer to work from home can have their minimum engagement reduced from three (3) hours per shift to two (2) hours per shift. Casual employees that have agreed with their employer to work from home must be paid for a minimum of two (2) hours work per shift (rather than three [3]).
  • In easyemployer this functionality is not automated and minimum hours cannot be automatically applied to a user in this way. However, rules exist in each account that can trigger warnings in the timesheet or cause suitability to change in the roster. The rule in this case is found under the "general rules" section and it titled "Minimum shift length". Using the scenario outlined above, this rule should be changed from three (3) hours to two (2) hours.

 


Above are examples of temporary changes that have been identified in some awards and how these should be handled in, or outside, of easyemployer.

It is always recommended to discuss your specific award interpretations/requirements with Fair Work, your association, or legal counsel.


 

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