Amendments to the Fast Food Award
The Fair Work Commission recently announced temporary changes to the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 to allow for more flexibility for employers during COVID-19. The changes include new provisions for part-time employees and annual leave arrangements.
These amendments are effective from the employee’s first full pay period on or after 19 May 2020 until 31 July 2020.
These changes apply to employers under the Fast Food Award who do not qualify for JobKeeper and employees covered by the award who are not eligible for JobKeeper.
An employer and a part-time employee can now come to a flexibility arrangement in writing which will temporarily replace the standard part-time provisions in the award.
Under the new flexibility provisions (Schedule H.7 of the award), the employee and employer can enter into a written agreement to:
- guarantee the minimum number of hours given and paid to the employee in each week or roster cycle;
- the days and times of the week when the employee is available to work the guaranteed minimum hours;
- that any disputes about Schedule H.7 can be arbitrated by the Commission.
Employees may be offered to work additional hours that are above their guaranteed agreed hours – if these hours are within the days/times the employee has agreed they are available to work. Employees can refuse to work the extra hours if these are offered. If the employee agrees to work additional hours, they may withdraw this agreement by providing their employer 14 days’ written notice.
Employees who work extra ‘ordinary hours’ above their guaranteed hours (but within their available hours) only need to be paid at their ordinary rate and not the overtime rate (plus any penalty rate that is applicable). Employees will accrue leave on extra ‘ordinary hours’ worked. If an employee is required to work reasonable overtime hours, normal overtime rates will be applicable.
For the flexibility agreement to be considered valid, it must be due to one of the following:
- it needs to be made because of coronavirus or government initiatives to slow its transmission;
- it needs to be necessary to assist the employer to avoid or minimise the loss of employment.
When Schedule H stops operating on 31 July 2020, the employee will return to their normal part-time arrangements.
If a part-time employee is first hired under Schedule H.7, the employee will change to casual employment when the schedule stops operating on 31 July 2020, unless:
- the employee agrees with their employer to stay employed part-time;
- the employee and employer make a part-time agreement under the award.
An employer can ask an employee to take paid annual leave if:
- the reasons for the request are linked to COVID-19 or Government directions to slow its transmission;
- the request is necessary to help the employer to prevent or minimize the loss of employment;
- the employee still has at least 2 weeks of accrued paid annual leave left after taking the leave.
If an employer makes a request, it needs to:
- be in writing;
- be reasonable in all the circumstances;
- have considered the employee’s personal circumstances;
- give at least 72 hours’ notice before the leave starts;
- tell the employee that the employer agrees that any dispute about whether the request is reasonable can be arbitrated by the Commission.
Employees will need to consider the employer’s request and cannot unreasonably refuse it. If leave is taken under these provisions, it will need to start before 16 June 2020.
Changes to Vehicle Award coverage
The Fair Work Commission has also made changes to the Vehicle Manufacturing, Repair, Services and Retail Award 2010; which will soon be known as the Vehicle Repair, Services and Retail Award 2020.
From 29 May 2020, the manufacturing stream of the award has been removed and has been transferred to the Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award 2020.
The Vehicle Award therefore no longer includes the vehicle manufacturing industry within its coverage, instead, employers and employees within this industry will be covered by the above Manufacturing Award.
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