Subscribe to our mailing list

COVID-19 relief given to Private Sector Clerical Workers


On Saturday, 28 March 2020, a Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) approved an application made by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Australian Industry Group and supported by the Australian Services Union, to introduce flexibilities in to the Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 allowing employers to respond to the challenges presented by COVID-19.  The Clerks Award applies to approximately 1.56 million employees and the flexibilities introduced by FWC will provide employers with a greater range of measures to address the impact of COVID-19.

The temporary changes which will operate until June 30 are:

Operational Flexibility
An employer may direct an employee to perform all duties that are within their skill and competency regardless of their classification provided that the duties are safe, and the employee is licensed and qualified to perform them.

Part-time employees working from home
A part-time employee who is working from home by agreement with the employer, may be rostered for a minimum of two consecutive hours on any shift.

Casual employees working from home
A casual employee, who is working from home by agreement with the employer, is entitled to a minimum payment of two hours’ work at the appropriate rate.

Ordinary hours of work for employees working from home
Where an employee requests and the employer agrees, the spread of ordinary hours of work for day workers is between 6.00am and 11.00pm, Monday to Friday, and between 7.00am and 12.30pm on Saturday, for employees working from home by agreement with the employer.

An employee working these hours is not a shift worker for the purposes of any penalties, loadings or allowances under the award.

Agreed temporary reduction in ordinary hours
An employer and at least 75% of the relevant full-time and part-time employees may agree to temporarily reduce ordinary hours of work for the employees as follows:

  • For full time employees, to not fewer than 75% of the full-time ordinary hours (i.e. 28½ ordinary hours).
  • For part-time employees, to not fewer than 75% of the part-time employee’s ordinary hours immediately prior to the implementation of the temporary reduction in ordinary hours.

Nothing in the approved Schedule prevents an employer and an individual employee agreeing in writing (including by electronic means) to reduce the employee’s hours or to move the employee temporarily from full-time to part-time hours of work, with a commensurate reduction in the minimum weekly wage.

A full-time or part-time employee who works reduced hours will continue to accrue personal/carer’s leave, annual leave and other applicable accruals based on the employee’s usual ordinary hours of work prior to the change.

Annual leave
Employers and employees may agree to the taking of up to twice as much annual leave at a proportionately reduced rate for all or part of any agreed or directed period away from work, including any close down.

An employer may direct an employee to take any annual leave that has accrued, subject to considering the employee’s personal circumstances, by giving at least one week’s notice, or any shorter period of notice that may be agreed. A direction to take annual leave shall not result in an employee having less than two weeks of accrued annual leave remaining.

Close down
An employer may require an employee to take annual leave by giving at least one week’s notice as part of a close down of its operations, or any shorter period of notice that may be agreed. Those with insufficient annual leave may take what accrual they have, followed by a period of unpaid leave for the duration of the close down.

The period of unpaid leave will count as service for the purposes of relevant award and NES entitlements.

A copy of the FWC Order, can be found here.

Not sure of your obligations?

If you need advice on how to respond to the impact of Coronavirus in your workplace, we are here to help.  Contact us here with HELP in the subject line and a Mapien Consultant will be in touch!

Written By
Jamie Paterson
With over 18 years’ experience as a human resources professional within large multi-national organisations, Jamie provides tailored employment relations solutions across geographically diverse operations focusing on all aspects of leading and managing people and practically applying his expertise in HR/IR strategy, leadership coaching, enterprise bargaining, and functional/operational auditing processes.