Changes to the Fair Work Act - 7 April 2020
On 7 April 2020, the Attorney-General Christian Porter announced a Government draft outlining three temporary key changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FWA) to adapt to the current situation regarding COVID-19.
The temporary legislative changes are being pushed in attempt to ensure the $1500 JobKeeper payments will continue to lawfully flow while also allowing employers to make flexible changes to save jobs. The processes of all three legislative changes will be reviewable by the Fair Work Commission.
The first change to the FWA would implement a ‘JobKeeper-enabling stand down’ and this would be in operation for the next six months. An employer can use a JobKeeper-enabling stand down in circumstances where an employee cannot be reasonably employed and usefully employed due to the current environment. Additionally, in these circumstances where an employee has had their hours altered down, they can request their primary employer to go get secondary employment (this includes people receiving the $1500 JobKeeper payment).
The second change allows an employer to alter an employee’s usual duties and location of work. This action can only be implemented if it is safe; reasonable in all circumstances; inside the skill and competency of the employee; and reasonably within the scope of the business’s operations. This allows for practical common-sensical alterations to working arrangements which are reasonable and necessary to ensure the employee continues their employment.
The third change allows employees to alter the days they might usually work through a mutual agreement with their employer. Additionally, an employee can request to use their annual leave, however, they must have two weeks or more of leave remaining.
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