Covid-19 Award Flexibilities extended in 74 Modern Awards

In April 2020 the Commission of its own initiative varied 99 awards to insert a new Schedule X to provide unpaid pandemic leave and the option to take twice as much annual leave at half pay.  Schedule X was to operate until 30 June 2020 (see previous alert).  Since April, Schedule X has been extended in 81 awards and inserted into several other awards.

The Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission on 24 September 2020 has extended Schedule X – additional measures during the COVID-19 pandemic for 74 modern awards until 29 March 2021.  The Commission has extended Schedule X to ensure that there is no ‘regulatory gap’ between award safety net and an employee’s requirement to self-isolate while the ‘COVID-19 pandemic is still in progress’.

The Coronavirus Economic Response Package (JobKeeper Payments) Amendment Act 2020 (Cth) recently extended the operation of the JobKeeper scheme (with some amendments) until 28 March 2021.  In consideration of this, and as a public policy objective, the Commission felt it necessary to extend an employee’s access to unpaid pandemic leave with the view of protecting and encouraging employees who are required to self-isolate.

A full list of the 74 modern awards varied to extended Schedule X can be accessed here.

Aitken Legal recommends that employers consistently review modern awards relevant to their business or seek award advice from one of our specialised employment lawyers.

Disclaimer: The information contained this article is general and intended as a guide only. Professional advice should be sought before applying any of the information to particular circumstances. While every reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this update, Aitken Legal does not accept liability for any errors it may contain. Liability limited by a scheme approved under professional standards legislation.