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Award flexibility for part-time employment

Update to the General Retail Industry Award 2020.
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Award flexibility for part-time employment

Award flexibility for part-time employment

1 July 2021

On 28 June 2021, the Full Bench of the Fair Work Commission (Commission) issued a determination to effect its decision to vary the provisions applying to part-time employees in the General Retail Industry Award 2020 (Award). The changes aim to better facilitate part-time employees working additional hours by individual agreement in reference to specific agreed shifts or for specific hours for an agreed period. The changes also clarify the intended operation of various provisions of the Award concerning the capacity for part-time employees to work additional hours at ordinary time rates under existing terms of the Award.

What are the main changes?

  • Clause 10.5 now defines ‘the number of hours to be worked on each particular day of the week’ as the part-time employee’s guaranteed hours, which forms part of the regular pattern of work that must be agreed in writing with the employee at the commencement of part-time employment.
    • This requirement still includes setting out the starting and finishing times for each particular day and when meal breaks may be taken and their duration.
  • Amendment to clause 10.6 makes clear that temporary or ongoing changes to a part-time employee’s regular pattern of work can be made by agreement in writing in which:
    • such a variation must be agreed in writing before it takes effect, except for where an ad-hoc variation is made for a specific shift wherein the agreement may be recorded in writing before the end of the affected shift;
    • retrospective agreement cannot be sought, thus, if an employee is requested to agree to a variation after an employee has worked additional hours, that agreement would have no effect and the employee would be entitled to be paid overtime for the additional hours worked; and
    • to avoid possible misunderstanding, a note is inserted to illustrate a variation properly made in accordance with clause 10.6.
  • Notes are inserted to explain that agreements under clauses 10.5 and 10.6 that must be recorded in writing include via an exchange of text messages, emails or by other electronic means.
  • Clause 10.7 sets out that the employer must retain a copy of any agreement made under clause 10.5, and any variation of it under clause 10.6 or 10.11, and provide a copy to the employee if requested by the employee.
  • Amendment to clause 10.8 clarifies when overtime rates must be paid.
  • Clause 10.10 regarding changes to the regular pattern of work by the employer giving the employee 7 days written notice (or in an emergency 48 hours) is limited to aspects of the part-time employee’s roster that can be changed to the times of work on a particular day. Variation to the days on which the employee is to work and the numbers of hours on those days can only be made by agreement in accordance with clause 10.6.
  • A new mechanism for review of guaranteed hours is introduced in clause 10.11 which provides that where the ordinary hours that the employee has regularly worked in the preceding 12 months is more than the employee’s guaranteed hours, the employee may request in writing to increase their guaranteed hours on an ongoing basis to reflect the hours regularly being worked. An employer may only refuse the request on reasonable grounds and guaranteed hours do not include overtime hours by operation of clause 10.8.
  • Clause 15.9 is also amended to expressly provide that clauses 15.9(d), (e) and (g), dealing with roster changes, do not apply to part-time employees and now includes a note that mentions clause 10.6 which deals with when the roster of a part-time employee can be varied by agreement.

When will the changes come into effect?

The changes come into effect on 1 July 2021.
To view the decision click here.
To view the determination click here.

Further information

To view the updated version of the Award click here.

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