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.
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.