Fair work Commission

Out of the Ordinary Approach by FWC in “Unprecedented” Times

The term “unprecedented” is now being widely used in the current industrial relations landscape. This is particularly the case with many well entrenched industrial relations principles being dispensed with (albeit temporarily) by the Fair Work Commission during the current crisis.

The FWC is now considering varying 103 awards to include unpaid ‘pandemic leave’ and the flexibility to take annual leave at half pay.
The FWC Full Bench is proposing to vary awards to:

  • provide up to two weeks unpaid leave for an employee required to self-isolate or is otherwise prevented from working because of measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic; and
  • allow an employer and employee to agree to take double annual leave on half pay.

These proposed changes could be introduced as early as next week and would operate until 30 June 2020.
The Full Bench issued a statement outlining its provisional views of variations under s 57(3) of the Fair Work Act, saying it was “made in the context of the unique circumstances pertaining to the COVID-19 pandemic”. It does not preclude other variation applications being made to Awards during the COVID-19 crisis.

In the past week or so, the FWC has recently made variations on an expedited basis to the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010, the Clerks –Private Sector Award 2010 and the Restaurant Industry Award 2010.to provide flexibility to employees and employers during these unique times.

Clients will be kept informed of the continuing changes to Awards and legislation as and when it arises.

Greg Arnold


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