In early April, AADA along with other employer groups convened by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI), commenced discussions with the intention of modifying the Vehicle Services Award to give Dealers greater flexibility in their obligations as employers. The benefit of these temporary arrangements will provide Dealers not eligible for the JobKeeper scheme to keep staff employed and promote business continuity during the COVID-19 crisis.
Following extensive consultation with the ACTU, AMWU and SDA, we along with employer representative colleagues, ACCI, AI Group and VACC have now come to an agreement over the modified award and made application to the Fair Work Commission.
The application seeks to:
- Provide flexibility around the range of duties that employees can perform, provided it is safe to do so and the employee has the necessary qualifications. Employees performing higher duties will be paid at the higher rate.
- Allow for a temporary reduction in working hours for full-time and part-time staff who cannot be usefully employed for their ordinary days/hours, subject to minimum reduction requirements (60% for full-time and 75% for part-time), as well as fortnight minimum pay entitlements for employees on reduced hours and the ability to agree to top up any reduction with accrued paid leave.
- Allow employees who are subject to a reduced hours to request to take on secondary employment, training or professional development. Employers must consider these requests and can’t unreasonably refuse them.
- Allow employers to direct employees to take annual leave for reasons attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic or government initiative to slow the transmission of the virus with notice, so long as the employee retains a balance of 2 weeks annual leave.
- Allow employers to close down operations for reasons attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic or government initiative to slow the transmission of the virus and direct employees to take leave having regard to their personal circumstances.
- Ensure there is consultation with employees when any new arrangements are implemented.
This is a very positive outcome for Dealers not able to access JobKeeper and while it is scheduled to sunset on 30 June 2020, it is able to be extended to ensure it covers the duration of the current downturn.