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Altering the spread of hours

Four yearly review of Modern Awards.
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Altering the spread of hours

Altering the spread of hours

21 June 2021

On 16 June 2021 the Fair Work Commission (“Commission”) handed down a decision which varies the following awards:

  • Clerks—Private Sector Award
  • Manufacturing and Associated Industries and Occupations Award
  • Business Equipment Award
  • Contract Call Centres Award
  • Airline Operations-Ground Staff Award
  • Seafood Processing Award
  • Pharmaceutical Industry Award
  • Food, Beverage and Tobacco Manufacturing Award
  • Storage Services and Wholesale Award
  • Sugar Industry Award
  • Aquaculture Industry Award

To view the decision please click here.


Spread of hours clauses

In the course of the Plain Language Re-drafting proceedings, the Commission has reviewed the “spread of hours” clauses found in a number of awards; in particular, the facilitative provisions permitting the alteration of the span of ordinary hours able to be worked each day by up to one hour at either end of the spread.

The issue under consideration was whether these clauses allowed for the spread to be varied by one hour at one or both ends, subject to the relevant agreement with employees being reached. For example, in the case of a 6am - 6pm spread, the Commission considered whether the span could be varied as follows:
  • 5am - 5pm and / or 7am - 7pm (Option 1);
  • 6am - 7pm (Option 2); or
  • 5am - 7pm (Option 3)?

In August 2019, the Commission expressed the preliminary view ([2019] FWCFB 6060) that such clauses are intended to move the span one hour forward or one hour back while maintaining a 12 hour
spread (per Option 1 above), subject to agreement with a group of employees or individual employee as required under the particular clause. The Commission also expressed the view that the intention of the clauses is not to extend the span beyond 12 hours (Options 2 and 3), but that it should be made clear that discrete and different agreements could be reached with an individual employee or particular groups of employees in a business.

In its most recent decision, the Commission has confirmed this preliminary view, and the variation of the 11 awards named in this Circular in accordance with the draft determinations published in September 2019.

Members who have traditionally relied on their relevant award clause should review the draft determination to ensure it does not impact their rostering arrangements and / or create an entitlement to overtime pay.


Further Information

The operative date for these changes is 1 July 2021.

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