Modern award changes 2020 due to the effects of Coronavirus (COVID-19)

By Aron Neilson, Principal Lawyer, Accredited Specialist in Employment and Industrial law department, Gordon Legal

The Fair Work Commission have recently adapted the Hospitality General Award 2010 in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. It is expected that more modern award changes will follow in the coming weeks.

Our employment lawyers at Gordon Legal want to break down these changes to assist you. Please be aware: the below is helpful information and not official legal advice.

What is a modern award?

Modern awards are legal documents that outline the minimum pay rates and conditions for those that are covered by them. Coverage under modern awards for employees is generally industry specific and linked to the type of work you perform. Modern awards are made by the Fair Work Commission and you can find a copy of your modern award at www.fwc.gov.au.

What has changed in the Hospitality General Award?

On 24 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission modified the Hospitality General Award by inserting a new schedule L.

Schedule L will apply from 24 March 2020 until 30 June 2020. It may be extended.

The effect of the changes in summary are:

  1. Employees covered by the Hospitality Industry General Award can be directed to perform any duties within their skill and competency regardless of their classification under the Award provided that the duties are safe and the employee is licensed and qualified to perform them.

This might mean that an employer can ask you to do lesser skilled duties than what you ordinarily perform during this time. If you are asked to do higher skilled duties then you (provided it extends for more than 2 hours) might be entitled to a higher rate of pay for performing those duties.

  1. An employer can now require full time employees to work an average of between 22.8 and 38 hours per week. This could mean a reduction in your ordinary hours of work over the period of the changes. A part time employee can be directed to work on average between 60% and 100% of their guaranteed hours.

Before any changes are made of this nature there is a requirement for there to be consultation with you and your union if you have one.

If you are affected by this change then you will be entitled to accrue your personal and annual leave as if you were working the old hours.

  1. An employer can now direct you to take annual leave, subject to your personal circumstances, with 24 hours’ notice. There used to be minimum notice requirements for things such as an employer close down or a requirement for you to have built up a certain bank of leave before you could be required to take annual leave. These have been waived.
  2. If you are directed to take annual leave you are able to agree with your employer to take that leave at half pay (so you get double the period of leave).

These changes are significant and might have an impact upon your employment arrangements. If in doubt, you should seek advice about the changes.

To seek legal advice about Modern Awards and Coronavirus, contact Gordon Legal on: 1300 59 95 17.