Workplace Relations COVID-19 Documentation
We understand the current economic circumstance has put pressure on businesses to take drastic yet necessary measures to sustain current and future viability. This situation is extremely fast-moving and businesses should ensure proper administration of changes made during this time to safeguard against repercussions after the pandemic has subsided.
The Victorian Chamber has prepared resources to alleviate the administrative burden of drafting documentation to reflect a change in employment conditions. Businesses should ensure advice is sought before making changes to employment conditions as employment legislation is complex. The following information is a guide for navigating changes to circumstances but is not intended as an exhaustive list.
Members, before downloading your tools and templates, please make sure you are signed into your Victorian Chamber account.
The Federal Government announced a wage subsidy scheme in late March, with the aim to stop employees being stood down without pay, made redundant and subsequently becoming unemployed. The $1,500 a fortnight payment is open to eligible businesses when an application to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is submitted and the business is notified that eligibility criteria has been met. Information can be found here. Businesses should ensure staff are provided with written notification that they are being included in the application to the ATO and check that Jobkeeper payments are not being claimed through other employers . The forms required as part of the application process are now available through the ATO website. Please click here to download the JobKeeper Employee Nomination notice. Employers should also provide written confirmation to employees of their inclusion in the JobKeeper scheme. Please click here to download the JobKeeper Employee confirmation of entitlement letter.
In early April the Government passed the Coronavirus Economic Response Legislative Package which amended the Fair Work Act to insert ‘Coronavirus economic response’ provisions. The changes enable employers who are eligible for Jobkeeper to stand down employees, change their duties and/or the location of work, subject to providing written notice and a three day consultation period. Similarly, annual leave can now be taken at half-pay, by agreement, which would entitle the employee to double the length of time off. The Victorian Chamber has prepared templates to assist, members please click the relevant links to download.
In light of Government mandated business closures and social distancing requirements, businesses are seeking agreement from staff to temporarily reduce hours, days of work or both. In many cases this is necessary to ensure viability of the business for the future. We recommend you seek advice before implementing any changes and ensure any agreed changes are accurately reflected in an appropriate document, for example,. The Victorian Chamber has prepared a letter template to assist, please click here to download.
State and Federal Government restrictions have resulted in many forced closures. In light of this, many businesses are standing staff down with no pay, pursuant to the provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009. Businesses should ensure clear communication to staff leading up to and during the stand-down. The Victorian Chamber has prepared a letter template to assist members communicate important information about stand down to staff during this time, please click here to download.
The pandemic is having substantial implications on revenue and availability of work for staff. Many businesses are reviewing their operations and finding positions in the business are no longer required. Opting to follow a redundancy process still requires the business to comply with procedural requirements under the Fair Work Act 2009, company policies, modern awards and/or enterprise agreements. The current pandemic does not relieve businesses of this obligation. Our members can access more information on employer requirements about redundancy and the steps you must take by clicking here for our factsheet.
Working from Home
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to many Australians performing work from the home environment rather than commuting to the office. For many businesses this is unprecedented and has required the employer to adapt quickly. This includes conducting meetings and inductions online and navigating patchy internet and phone reception. Employers should ensure compliance with the usual workplace policies continues and should introduce new parameters for work from home. The Victorian Chamber has prepared a working from home checklist, policy (members: please log in before downloading) and an ergonomic assessment tool to assist members.
Modern award flexibility
Recently three modern awards have had COVID-19 schedules inserted to assist employers navigate the pandemic. The following awards have been amended:
- Clerks—Private Sector Award 2010
- Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010
- Restaurant Industry Award 2010
Some of the changes are intended to afford greater flexibility, including: flexibility to work in any area within your skill and competency; shortening minimum engagement periods; flexibility in relation to span of hours and split shifts; the ability to reduce the working week; increasing the scope to direct people to take leave; and the ability to take leave at half pay by agreement.
Similar changes are expected to be introduced to more awards.
Members are advised to utilise the Victorian Chamber subscription service to receive timely updates for award changes. To access the award subscription page you are required to log in to your Victorian Chamber account. If this is your first visit to our website you will be required to select ‘request a new password’ (via the login tab located in the top right hand corner of the home page) and follow the prompts.
Workplace Relations Advice Line
Trying to deal with workplace issues alone but don’t know where to start?
Our experienced team are here to give you over-the-phone advice about human resources or workplace relations issues. Our Complete and Connect members have free and unlimited access to expert advice through the Workplace Relations Advice Line on 03 8662 5222. Click here for more information.
For more information on how the Victorian Chamber is assisting businesses during the COVID-19 situation please click here.
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