In these times of rapid change as we respond to Covid-19, there are a lot of employers operating like cowboys but eventually, they will be caught out by Fair Work and the lawyers that are going to have a field day in a post coronavirus world. Operating ethically and legally is just as important now as it ever was so just because someone else is doing something, it doesn’t mean you should. So let’s take a look at what’s happening and what you can and can’t do as employment law currently stands.
There are some common questions we are being asked about what employers CAN do given the very different world in which we are all trying to operate. Many of these questions relate to utilising employees in different roles to those for which they were employed, reduction of hours, minimum work periods, and directing teams to take annual leave.
The Fair Work Commission is reviewing Modern Awards in order to provide greater flexibility in the workplace as the Covid-19 situation develops. To date, the Clerks, Hospitality and Restaurant Awards have all had variations made and it is likely that similar temporary changes will be applied to 103 additional Modern Awards. Changes so far have included more flexibility around assigning employees to different tasks outside of their normal classification, a greater ability for employers to direct employees to take a period of annual leave and permission for some employers to reduce working hours without employee agreement.
Each of the changes in the three Awards comes with its own nuances related to the relative industries so please contact any of the awesome HR Professionals at HR Staff n’ Stuff for help if you are uncertain as to how it applies to your business. We will keep you updated on changes to other Awards as they become available.
WHAT ELSE CAN YOU DO?
BUT YOU CAN’T…..
LAWFUL AND REASONABLE
Remember, all directions to employees must be lawful and reasonable – we can not say this enough. As many of us were told as kids – just because someone else is doing it, it doesn’t mean it is right. So if you are in any doubt as to what you can direct your employees to do or how you might give that direction, jump on the phone or send us an email and we will provide you with the most up to date information and help you avoid any post Covid-19 legal action. Government directives and Fair Work Commission responses are being updated regularly so please check on the latest advice before proceeding with any changes to your workplace.
* Parliament is sitting today, 8 April 2020, and there may be some adjustments to the above information. We will keep you informed of any changes and how they may impact your business.
The HR Staff n' Stuff team all contribute to our blogs. Enjoy the read!