Noting that there will be a need for flexible work arrangements to assist employers and employees in adapting the changed conditions and to support recovery, Mr Ross has published a draft award flexibility schedule for potential inclusion in appropriate modern awards.
“The award flexibility terms contained in the draft model schedule are likely to be of particular relevance to small businesses, as they are less likely to be covered by an enterprise agreement,” said Mr Ross, adding that the schedule provides a further opportunity to improve the usability of awards, particularly for small businesses.
The publication, which is intended to be used as a starting point for discussion between parties, enables an employer and an employee to reach an agreement on a working-from-home arrangement that balances the personal and work responsibilities of the employee with the business needs of the employer.
It also includes provisions for:
- Full-time or part-time employees to request to compress their working week so that their usual weekly ordinary hours are worked over a reduced number of their usual work days.
- Employees to take twice as much annual leave at half pay with the agreement of their employer.
- Employees to purchase additional leave with the agreement of their employer.
- A change in the span of hours in a workplace or section of a workplace with the agreement of 75 per cent of employees.
- An agreement to share a reduction in working hours in a workplace or section of a workplace with the agreement of 75 per cent of employees, in circumstances where an employer cannot usefully employ all of the full-time and part-time employees in a workplace or section of a workplace.
- An employer direction to an employee to perform all duties within their skill and competency.
- An employer direction to an employee to work at a different workplace (including the employee’s home).
- An employer direction to employees to stagger starting and finishing times of work.
Mr Ross noted that while some of the above provisions are already permitted under JobKeeper enabling directions, they could assist employers and employees once the initial wage subsidy period ends later this month.
The FWC president also invited interested parties to discuss and reach agreement on the extent of flexibility required and any necessary tailoring of specific terms to meet the needs of the employers and employees covered by particular modern awards.
“The commission is available to facilitate variation applications to assist employers and employees to deal with the impacts of the pandemic,” Mr Ross said.