Fair Work make temporary changes to employment conditions to support flexibility during Covid-19

Changes to Modern Awards to support business operations during the pandemic

What awards are impacted?

Fair work have made temporary amendments to 99 modern awards including the Gardening and Landscaping Services Award 2020 and the Horticulture Award 2010. The Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 is not covered by the Fair Work Commission’s variations.

What are the changes?

Two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave – All employees (full time, part time and casual) are entitled to two weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave in full immediately if they are:

  • Required to self-isolate; or
  • Otherwise prevented from attending work by measures taken by government or medical authorities
  • This leave is considered a workplace right under the Fair Work Act.

Double annual leave at half pay

  • Employers and employees may agree to the taking of up to twice as much annual leave at half the rate of pay

Amendments to the Fair Work Act to enable practical implementation of the JobKeeper Scheme

In addition to the temporary changes to the fair work act, temporary amendments have been made to specific modern awards

If your business qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme, and is entitled to JobKeeper payments for a particular employee, additional options will be available to you in relation to your eligible employees.

It is important to note that these options are temporary and only apply for the period of 30 March to 27 September 2020. Employers are only able to exercise these options if they meet the eligibility for JobKeeper.

What does this mean for our industry?

If your individual business is not eligible for JobKeeper payments, then the temporary changes to modern awards do not apply to you. Standard employment conditions will apply and remain. If you are eligible, the following changes can be negotiated between you and your employees:

  • Temporarily reduce hours and days of work
  • Direction to perform different duties
  • Request to work different days or times
  • Request to take annual leave

Whilst navigating these times, it is important that employees and employers work together to find a mutually agreeable solution wherever possible. Employers should try to avoid directions to employees without their consent or input to a proposed solution.


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