Hospitality Award flexibility during coronavirus

JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act

On 9 April 2020, the Fair Work Act was amended to support the implementation and operation of the JobKeeper scheme in Australian workplaces.

For information about the changes and how they apply, go to JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

Published 25 March 2020 | Updated 1 June 2020

On 24 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission (the Commission) made a determination external-icon.png varying the Hospitality Award. The determination inserted a temporary new Schedule, which applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 24 March until 30 June 2020. Schedule J adds award flexibility during the outbreak of coronavirus for:

  • employees’ classifications and duties
  • full-time and part-time employees' hours of work
  • directions to take annual leave.

The Commission may extend when Schedule J operates until, if necessary. We'll update this content if that happens.

The following changes apply under Schedule J, for employers and employees covered by the Hospitality Award. Use Find my award external-icon.png if you’re not sure which award applies to you.

Unpaid pandemic leave

On 8 April 2020, the Commission issued a determination external-icon.png inserting unpaid pandemic leave into the Hospitality Award. See Unpaid pandemic leave in awards.

Change in duties

JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act - Direction to change usual duties or location of work

Under the recent JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act, qualifying employers can temporarily change an eligible employee’s usual duties or work location in certain circumstances.

These employers don’t need to rely on Schedule J of the Hospitality Award to make these changes.

See JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

While Schedule J applies, employers can tell their employees to do any tasks that they have the skill and competency for, even if those tasks aren’t in their usual classification or normal work. The task must be safe and the employee must have all the appropriate licenses and qualifications to perform the tasks.

When an employee works at a higher classification for less than 2 hours, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate for the hours worked. If the employee works at a higher classification for 2 hours or more, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate for the whole day. This doesn’t apply to employees classified as food and beverage attendants grade 2 or 3.

Employees who do tasks below their usual classification are still paid at their usual pay rate.

Example: employee directed to do deliveries

Mia is a waiter who usually removes food and clears tables. She’s paid as a food and beverage attendant grade 1 under the Hospitality Award.

The pub she works at is currently only doing takeaway and deliveries because of coronavirus. Mia has a driver's licence and a car. Under the new Hospitality Award flexibility arrangements, Mia’s employer directs her to deliver food to customers. She’s paid as a food and beverage attendant grade 2 for these higher duties.

Hours of work for full-time and part-time employees

JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act - Hours of work for full-time and part-time employees

Under the recent JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act, qualifying employers can temporarily direct eligible employees to work fewer hours or days (including no hours) in certain circumstances.

These employers don’t need to rely on Schedule J of the Hospitality Award to make these changes.

See JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

Employers can reduce their permanent employees' hours of work to an average of:

  • between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours each week for full time employees
  • between 60% and 100% of the guaranteed hours per week or over the roster cycle for part-time employees.

If an employer wants to reduce an employee's hours, they need to discuss the changes with them, making sure they:

  • follow the award’s consultation rules about changes to rosters or hours of work
  • provide as much notice as practicable.

If an employee is a member of a union, their employer also needs to let their union know this change is happening.

Employees working reduced hours under Schedule J will continue to accumulate and take their paid leave based on their ordinary hours before the employer reduced the hours.

Example: reduction of hours

Augustus works as a full-time clerical assistant at a bespoke taphouse and winery. He's employed as a clerical grade 2 worker under the Hospitality Award. Augustus's employer lets him know that because the business is now only selling takeaways, the amount of administrative work has reduced and they need to reduce his hours.

Augustus, his organiser from the United Workers Union and his employer sit down together and work through the consultation clause. They agree Augustus will work 25 hours per week until 30 June 2020, when the Schedule stops applying.

In May, Augustus is sick with coronavirus and takes sick leave to self-isolate while he's unwell. Augustus is entitled to be paid for 38 hours each week while he's on sick leave because this is what his ordinary hours were before the reduction.

Annual leave

JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act - Annual leave

Under the recent JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act, qualifying employers can:

  • request an eligible employee to take paid annual leave (as long as the employee keeps a balance of at least 2 weeks paid annual leave)
  • agree in writing with the eligible employee for them to take annual leave at half their usual pay (including annual leave loading if it applies) for twice the length of time.

The employee has to consider the employer’s request to take annual leave and can’t unreasonably refuse it.

If an agreement is made under the JobKeeper provisions then while it is in place, it applies instead of the employee's usual terms and conditions about taking annual leave.

See JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

Employers can direct an employee to take annual leave under Schedule J. Employers need to:

  • give their employees at least 24 hours notice
  • consider their employee's personal situation.

Employees can take their annual leave at half pay, and double their time off work, if their employer agrees.

This means an employee gets payment for 1 week of annual leave (including annual leave loading) for every 2 weeks of annual leave they take.

An employee on leave at half pay accumulates annual leave and sick and carer’s leave as if they were on leave at full pay.

Employees and employers can still agree to take annual leave at any time.

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