Fair Work Commission reinstates Schedule X

The Fair Work Commission has reinstated a schedule into the Graphic Arts, Printing and Publishing Award which enables employees to take 10 days unpaid pandemic leave if they are directed to self-isolate by government or medical authorities and twice the annual leave at half pay.

Schedule X was installed as a temporary provision to navigate the COVID-19 period until June 30, but has now been reinstated following a push from The Real Media Collective (TRMC).

“Numerous unions successfully applied to extend the life of Schedule X in various Awards. However, no application was made at that time to extend the life of the clause in the Graphic Arts Printing and Publishing Award and it duly expired at the end of June,” TRMC CEO Kellie Northwood said.

“Last Friday, the AMWU sought to have Schedule X retrospectively extended in the Award from June until 30 September. The commission held the provisional view that it should reinstate the clause, however TRMC argued it should not be retrospectively reinstated.”

Schedule X is the Fair Work Commission’s response to the possible needs of employees and employers as a result of COVID-19.

It permits employees to take 10 days unpaid pandemic leave if the employee is prevented from working based on advice to self-isolate from government, medical authorities or a GP.

Additionally, it provides employers and employees with the ability to agree that an employee can take twice the annual leave at half the pay. The commission has advised that parties could seek to extend the life of that term prior to its expiration.

“TRMC was the only industry association to provide submissions from an industry perspective. The commission accepted our submission that it (the commission) was not empowered under the Fair Work Act to make the retrospective reinstatement as sought, rather it must be from the date of any decision as per the terms of the Act,” Northwood said.

As a result of the decision, Schedule X will now be reinstated in the Graphic Arts Printing and Publishing Award effective from an employee’s first full pay period that starts on or after 27 July, and until 30 September, and on the same terms as previously included with no retrospective extension granted.

“Dialogue with the commission and TRMC has never been stronger. These times are critical for employees and employers and the very reason why we need to remain on the front-foot. We welcomed the decision from the commission overnight as it demonstrated a fair reading of the legislation and industry’s position whilst also providing support to employees,” Northwood added.

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