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Temporary Amendments to Fair Work regulations

Temporary Amendments to Fair Work regulations

By Workplace Relations Section

COVID-19 Workplace Workplace Relations 

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The LIV has prepared a brief summary of an important Fair Work amendment, in response to COVID-19.

Fair Work Amendment (Variation of Enterprise Agreements) Regulations 2020 

On 17 April 2020, the Fair Work Amendment (Variation of Enterprise Agreements) Regulations 2020 was approved by the federal Industrial Relations Minister. It comes as the pressures of COVID-19 continue to grip the domestic economy.
 
Variation of enterprise agreements:
Part 2-4 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) provides for the making and variation of enterprise agreements between employers and employees. To approve a variation of an enterprise agreement, the Fair Work Commission must be satisfied that the employees covered by the agreement have genuinely agreed to the variation. There are a number of steps that must be met to satisfy the ‘genuine agreement’ requirement. For example, the employer must take all reasonable steps to provide employees with a copy of the proposed variation to an agreement, and any other incorporated material, before the vote on a proposed variation.
 
The amendment:
 
The amendment focuses on the period of time employers are required to consult with employees over changes to pay and conditions in their enterprise agreements (the access period). Previously, the minimum notice for employees to weigh up/consider any proposed changes to their enterprise agreement was seven days. This has been reduced to 24 hours. Employers must still ensure, however, that changes are based on a genuine agreement. For example, the employer must take all reasonable steps to notify employees of the time and place of the vote on the proposed variation, and the voting method, by the start of the access period.
 
Who will this amendment benefit?
 
This amendment may be particularly beneficial for large employers who are not eligible for the JobKeeper scheme. It will provide them with greater flexibility to make changes to the relevant enterprise agreement, such as including an ability to direct employees to take accrued leave, reducing working hours, and delaying or cancelling future pay increases.
 
Is the amendment permanent?
 
This amendment is temporary, and has effect until 17 October 2020, or a later time if prescribed by the Fair Work Regulations. However, to ensure the system is not being misused, this temporary measure will also be subject to review.
 

Contact

Michelle Luarte, Policy Lawyer  
ph: 3 9607 9413 
mluarte@liv.asn.au


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