Pandemic Award Flexibility Extended

Pandemic Award Flexibility Extended


8 July 2020

IN BRIEF: Many CCER members have encountered workforce issues as their operations are affected by COVID-19 and the resulting public health orders by State and Federal Governments. The following article discusses extensions to several variations.

In light of the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fair Work Commission (FWC) has extended temporary variations previously made to most Modern Awards to provide continuing flexibility in the workplace. Previous CCER communications regarding these variations can be viewed here.

The FWC has extended the application of the following measures:

Unpaid Pandemic Leave and Annual Leave at Half Pay – Schedule X

On 8 April 2020, the FWC issued a decision varying 99 modern awards to insert a new schedule: Schedule X – Additional measures during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Schedule provides an entitlement to unpaid pandemic leave and the ability to take annual leave at half pay. The FWC has issued a decision extending the application of the Schedule to a range of modern awards that apply to CCER members, as follows:

General Retail Industry Award 2020 – until 31 July 2020

Other Awards – until 30 September 2020:

  • Banking, Finance and Insurance Industry Award 2020
  • Cemetery Industry Award 2020
  • Children’s Services Award 2010
  • Educational Services (Post-Secondary Education) Award 2020
  • Higher Education Industry – General Staff – Award 2020
  • Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2020
  • Journalists Published Media Award 2020
  • Labour Market Assistance Industry Award 2020
  • Miscellaneous Award 2020

Health Awards – until the FWC issues a further order:

  • Aged Care Award 2010
  • Health Professionals and Support Services Award 2020
  • Nurses Award 2010
  • Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award 2010

Clerks – Private Sector Award 2010 – changes to hours and annual leave   

On 28 March 2020, the FWC inserted a new Schedule I—Award Flexibility During the COVID-19 Pandemic into the Clerks Award. The FWC has issued a decision extending and amending the operation of the Schedule. The variation applies from the first full pay period on or after 1 July 2020 until 30 September 2020, and permits:

  • employees to work ordinary hours from home pursuant to an expanded spread of hours (6am to 10pm);
  • employers to request the taking of annual leave (which employees cannot unreasonably refuse) provided employees retain a balance of two weeks annual leave; and
  • a reduction of employee hours by up to 25% for those employers who implemented this provision before 1 July 2020.

These provisions are subject to additional safeguards, including that any direction or request made under the Schedule cannot be unreasonable in the circumstances.

The following variations introduced in the 28 March 2020 decision no longer apply from 1 July 2020:

  • the ability to direct employees to perform different duties
  • reduced minimum engagement/pay periods for casual and part-time employees
  • removing close down provisions.

Hospitality Industry General Award 2020 – Changes to Flexibility

The FWC has issued a decision to vary and extend the operation of Schedule J – Flexibility During the COVID-19 Pandemic until 27 September 2020. The modified Schedule:

  • excludes employees employed by an employer that qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme;
  • provides a direction in relation to hours of work can only be given where the employee cannot be usefully employed for the employee’s normal days or hours due to changes attributed to government initiatives that seek to slow the transmission of COVID-19. The direction must be given in writing and be reasonable in all the circumstances; and
  • includes some additional safeguards around annual leave.

You can access your modern award here.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with our Employment Relations Specialists on (02) 9390 5255 or


Disclaimer: CCER does not give legal advice and this information should not be taken as such.


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