Awards varied for Work Flexibilities due to COVID-19

A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission recently varied approximately 99 Awards, including the Meat Industry Award 2010 (the Award). The variation is effective immediately and will remain in operation until 30 June 2020.

The Australian Meat Industry Council (AMIC) has advised members on a variety of options available to them during the Coronavirus pandemic, including the JobKeeper incentive, stand down provision and allowing employees to take accrued leave should a stand down occur.

A brief summary of the variation, known as ‘Additional measures during the COVID0-19 pandemic’ is outlined as follows:

Unpaid pandemic leave:

  • allows employees to take up to two weeks unpaid pandemic leave if required,
  • the employee must give the employer as much notice as possible of the need to take leave, and,
  • if required by the employer provide evidence “that would satisfy a reasonable person” that the leave is necessary,
  • leave taken under this clause does not affect any other leave type in the Award,
  • Leave taken under this clause must commence before 30 June 2020.

Annual leave at half pay:

  • allows an employee to take twice as much annual leave on half pay.
  • any agreement to leave under this clause must be in writing and kept on the employees’ records.
  • any leave taken is recorded as half the amount taken. For example, two weeks leave at half pay is recorded as one week’s leave and deducted fem the employee s annual leave accruals.
  • The approved leave under this clause must commence prior to 30 June 2020

A requirement under these new temporary award provisions are that, nobody may take adverse action against or coerce a person into taking leave.

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