Fast Food Award flexibility during coronavirus

Published 22 May 2020

On 19 May 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) made a determination external-icon.png varying the Fast Food Award. The determination adds a temporary new Schedule H, which applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 19 May 2020 until 31 July 2020.

Schedule H adds flexibility to the award during coronavirus for:

The Commission can extend when Schedule H operates until, if an application is made by an interested party. We'll update our information if that happens.

Who does it apply to?

Schedule H changes apply to:

  • employers covered by the Fast Food Award and who don't qualify for JobKeeper payments 
  • employees covered by the Fast Food Award who aren't eligible for JobKeeper payments. 

For information about the JobKeeper scheme, see JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

Use Find my award if you’re not sure which award applies to you.

Also on this page:

Unpaid pandemic leave

On 8 April 2020, the Commission inserted provisions for taking unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave at half pay into the Fast Food Award. See Unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave changes in awards.

Part-time work

Schedule H adds new flexibilities for part-time work.

An employer and an employee can agree in writing to new flexible part-time employment arrangements. If they do this, the new arrangements temporarily replace the standard part-time arrangements currently in the award.

A part-time employee employed under Schedule H is someone who gets the same pay and conditions as a full-time employee (but on a pro-rata basis) and works:

  • at least 8 but less than 38 hours per week
  • reasonably predictable hours of work.

Agreements for flexible part-time arrangements are made under Schedule H.7. To make one, an employer and employee need to have a written agreement including:

  • a guaranteed minimum number of hours given and paid 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.

The employer and employee need to have genuinely made the part-time agreement without coercion or duress. Also, for the agreement to be valid:    

  • 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.

Employees need to be rostered for at least 3 hours in a row each shift, and the guaranteed minimum hours need to be at least 8 hours per week.

Changes to the guaranteed minimum hours need to be agreed in writing between the employer and the employee.

Employees can be offered extra ordinary hours above the guaranteed minimum, if they’re within the days and times the employee has agreed they’re available to work. Employees can refuse to work extra hours when they’re offered. If an employee has agreed to work extra hours, they can withdraw their agreement by giving their employer 14 days’ notice in writing.

Employers need to pay their employees for any extra ordinary hours worked at ordinary rates (plus any penalty rates that apply), instead of overtime rates. Employees accrue leave on any extra hours worked.

If an employer needs an employee to work reasonable overtime hours (under the normal arrangements in the award), normal overtime rates apply. An employee can refuse overtime hours if the request is unreasonable.

If an employer and a part-time employee already have a written part-time agreement under the award, and they don’t agree in writing to make a new part-time arrangement under Schedule H, the employee’s existing arrangement continues to apply. If they do agree, the new arrangement only applies for the time that Schedule H does. When Schedule H stops operating on 31 July 2020, the employee goes back to their normal part-time arrangements.

If a person is first employed as a part-time employee under Schedule H, they’ll change to casual employment when Schedule H 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.

Annual leave

Under Schedule H, an employer can ask an employee to take paid annual leave if:

  • the reasons for the request are attributable to the coronavirus outbreak or Government initiatives to slow its transmission
  • it's necessary to help the employer to prevent or minimise 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.

The leave under the Schedule needs to start before 16 June 2020.

Employees need to consider their employer’s request to take leave, and can’t unreasonably refuse it.

Employers and employees can still agree for an employee to take annual leave at any other time.

Disputes about temporary award changes

If you have a dispute about the operation of Schedule H, you can ask for help from the Commission.

Go to Interpret or enforce an award - Disputes about how an award applies external-icon.png on the Commission’s website for more information.

Employees covered by an agreement

The changes to the Fast Food Award don’t apply to employees covered by an enterprise agreement.

For employees covered by an agreement, the Commission has said that some parties to enterprise agreements are applying to vary their agreements because of coronavirus. This is to give extra flexibility to help address the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

There have also been some changes to access periods for variations for enterprise agreements. Where an employer asks employees covered by an enterprise agreement to vote on varying it, the employer now only needs to give employees access to a copy of the variation for 1 day (instead of 7 days) before employees vote. Learn more on the Fair Work Commission - COVID-19 and enterprise agreements page external-icon.png.

Find out if your workplace is covered by an agreement on the Fair Work Commission website – Find an agreement external-icon.png.

More information

 

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