FWC varies building awards in response to Covid-19 Pandemic

FWC varies building award article.png

FWC varies building awards in response to Covid-19 Pandemic

A Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission has issued a determination granting several temporary amendments to Building Industry Awards, in response to employment challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic. Key employer associations sought ten variations to the Building and Construction General On-site Award 2010 (the Building Award), the Joinery and Building Trades Award 2010, and the Mobile Crane Hiring Award 2010.

The variations were sought via the introduction of a new Schedule I – Award Flexibility and covered a wide range of matters including reduced hours, ability to direct employees to take annual leave and expanding the span of ordinary hours.  Fundamental features of the proposed variations are that they only apply to those employers, and their employees, who are not entitled to access the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper scheme (non-eligible employers), and only apply until 31 December 2020.

After hearing considerable evidence from significant industry figures including building unions, the CFMMEU, the AWU and the AMWU, the Full Bench was not overly persuaded by the need for the variations sought by employer groups.

Only two of the variations sought to the Building Award were granted, being:

  1. Any employee is entitled to take up to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave (Pandemic Leave) if the employee is required by government or medical authorities or on the advice of a medical practitioner to self-isolate and is consequently prevented from working, or is otherwise prevented from working by measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  2. By agreement between an employer and employee, instead of an employee taking paid annual leave on full pay, the employee may take twice as much leave on half pay (for example, an employee could convert two weeks of full pay annual leave to four weeks on half pay).

The parties were invited to submit any responses to the determination by 10 August 2020. In light of the pandemic situation in Victoria, the FWC will allow further submissions to be made in the event of that state declaring a Pandemic stage 4.

Master Builders Australia Ltd; Housing Industry Association Limited; Australian Industry Group (AM2020/28) 6 August 2020

Further applications, changes or amendments are anticipated.

For queries about Building Industry Awards or  other employment questions, please contact Dean Cameron at Workforce Advisory Lawyers – We Know Employment Law on 0417 622 178 or via email to dean.cameron@workforceadvisory.com.au

Disclaimer: This information is provided as general advice on workplace relations and employment law. It does not constitute legal advice, and it is always advisable to seek further information regarding specific workplace issues. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.

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