Connected people

RETAIL LAW UPDATE: Employers have more power to direct employees

The Fair Work Act has been amended in relation to the COVID-19 situation.  The changes apply to businesses which qualify for the JobKeeper payment subsidy.  These changes will lapse on 28 September 2020.

Under the new changes, JobKeeper-qualified employers have the ability to give directions to employees and unilaterally vary  some terms of their employment.

An employer can give a direction if the affected employee cannot be usefully employed for their normal hours during the period of direction, with at least 3 days notice to the employee, to:
• Reduce normal hours of work for an employee (e.g. you could reduce hours down to the JobKeeper subsidy of $1,500 per week – but note that you cannot reduce their rate of pay);
• Change the timing/location that the employee performs their work;
• Change their usual work tasks (within reason).

Additionally, employees can request training or professional development, or to take up a second job which cannot be unreasonably refused.

The Fair Work Commission can intervene to set aside directions, taking into account fairness.

Annual Leave
There are also changes to annual leave laws:
• Employers can request that an employee take annual leave, which cannot be unreasonably refused, as long as the employee is left with a balance of at last 2 weeks annual leave.
• Employees can also take double annual leave for half pay, provided that they have at least 2 weeks annual leave balance remaining.

If you would like advice regarding giving a direction or in relation to the COVID-19 amendments, call us on 1300 033 934 or book a free 20 minute discussion with Rosalyn.