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EMPLOYMENT UPDATE: COVID-19 AND THE HOSPITALITY AWARD

On Tuesday, 24 March 2020, the Fair Work Commission approved an application to urgently vary the Hospitality Industry (General) Award 2010 (HIGA) in an effort to save jobs and afford much needed flexibility to employers in Australia’s hospitality industry. The changes follow a substantial shutdown of the hospitality industry and a range of other unprecedented restrictions aimed at slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Hours of work – full-time and part-time employees

Under the new provisions of the HIGA, employers will be entitled to direct its full-time employees to work an average of between 22.8 and 38 ordinary hours per week, and its part-time employees to work an average of between 60% and 100% of their guaranteed hours per week.

Employers must consult with affected employees and notify the United Workers Union, if the affected employees are members, of its intention to implement changes to rosters and hours of work under the new provisions of the HIGA. This means that employers must:

  • provide to affected employees and their representative (if any) information about the proposed changes to rosters and hours of work (e.g. the precise nature of the change and when it is proposed to begin); and
  • invite affected employees to give their views about the impact of the proposed changes on them (including any impact on their family or caring responsibilities) and also invite their representative (if any) to give their views about the impact.

Employers will also be entitled to direct its employees to perform any duties that are within their skill and competency regardless of their classification, provided that the duties are safe and the employee is licensed and qualified to perform them (e.g. a responsible service of alcohol (RSA) certification).

Annual leave

The variations to the HIGA will also allow employers (in certain circumstances) to direct its employees to take annual leave with 24 hours’ notice, subject to considering the affected employees’ personal circumstances. Employers and employees can also agree to the employee taking twice the duration of annual leave at half the rate of pay for all or part of any period of annual leave.

Contact us

If you would like to discuss the changes to the HIGA or your options in greater detail, whether you operate in the hospitality industry or not, please contact me on 07 3224 0323 as I would be happy to assist.

"The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication."