Employer Update – April

Published April 2020

We hope you enjoyed a marvellous long weekend and are recharged for a busy short week ahead! Please remember that Easter comes with a swag of different public holidays (differing by state) and payment obligations for employers. While there have recently been changes introduced to many awards to allow flexibility and new leave types during the Covid-19 pandemic, you still need to:

  • Pay public holiday rates if your employees work a designated public holiday; and

  • Pay permanent employees for the public holiday as normal, even if they are stood down without pay.

Check the public holiday dates by state here – https://www.fairwork.gov.au/leave/public-holidays




The 4-yearly review of modern awards is continuing in 2020. For most awards, the biggest change is to the layout and language, meaning they should be simpler to read and understand (we hope!). Rules and entitlements won’t change significantly in most cases but you should still take the time to understand any changes that affect your business and employees.


Effective 13 April 2020, the 12 modern awards listed below have been updated and current versions can be found on the Fair Work Commission’s modern award list.


The next group of varied awards will take effect on 4 May 2020:


FREE WORKING FROM HOME TOOLKIT (normally valued at $495)

Working from home is becoming the new normal and this trend will only continue with Covid-19 still on the horizon for a while yet. It’s important that businesses establish clear guidelines and document the arrangement with each employee working from home, and the toolkit by will do that and more!


You’ll have a complete Policy, Employee Agreement and Home Workspace Assessment Checklist. Just add your logo, insert your company name and viola! You’re good to go!


Download on our website and use code COVIDFREE on checkout (no credit card details are needed). https://www.edwardshr.com.au/shop


The Fair Work Act 2009 has been temporarily varied to help employers deal with the economic impact of Covid-19. These changes apply only to employers who are eligible for the JobKeeper payment. These changes override any modern award, enterprise agreement or employment contract, and will be subject to a review process by the Fair Work Commission commencing July 2020. The Coronavirus economic response provisions in Part6-4C temporarily give an employee a ‘JobKeeper enabling direction’. This will allow employers in certain circumstances to:

  • Make temporary and partial stand downs;

  • Alter an employee’s usual duties and location of work;

  • Alter an employee’s days and times of work;

  • Request that an employee take paid annual leave, including at half pay.


There are very specific tests and qualifications that apply for these to be enacted in a business so ensure you seek advice from our team before making any changes within your operations.




The JobKeeper legislation has now passed parliament so be sure to speak with your Accountant about eligibility as these payments will help keep your team employed.



With many individuals spending more time at home and quickly losing interest in Facebook, online shopping, cooking and gardening, it’s the perfect time to look at up-skilling through free online courses. There are thousands of choices online that can help keep you and your team engaged, inspired and ready to better your business. There are plenty of options, depending on what you’re interested in – we’ve provided some shortcuts below (we are not affiliated with any of these) and you’ll find plenty more by doing a Google search on your topic of interest.


Don’t forget about the federal funding for apprentices and trainees – find out more here.



Last week the NHVR launched a new online tool that maps service centres, truck stops and roadhouses that remain open for heavy vehicle drivers, including their trading hours.


NHVR CEO Sal Petroccitto “having access to food, showers, toilets and appropriate rest is critical for drivers to properly manage their fatigue,” and we couldn’t agree more.


We encourage businesses with drivers to inform these employees of the tool so they can quickly and easily see which facilities are open, allowing them to plan routes and breaks. It will also soon be available on the NHVR Route Planner (AKA Journey Planner).


You can find out more on the NHVR website here.




Beyond Blue has seen a 30 per cent increase in contact over the past two weeks, and astoundingly, on some days, one in three calls to its existing support service is relating to COVID-19 concerns.


We strongly encourage you to let your team know about the resources discussed in this section.

Support for Individuals


Beyond Blue has launched a free (Government funded) Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service for all Australians as we navigate the impacts of Covid-19 on mental health and wellbeing.


The service is can be accessed 24-7 by calling 1800 512 348.


Trained counsellors are available on the dedicated phone support line, providing counselling and useful information to help support mental health and wellbeing, based on the individual’s specific needs. All sessions are one-on-one and confidential, and you can remain anonymous if you prefer.


Information caters to a broad range of issues such as loneliness and self-isolation, job loss and financial worries, and offers specific support for essential service workers and small businesses. Beyond Blue also has plenty of information and guides online. We have summarised some of the key pages below:


Support for Business Owners/Leaders Beyond Blue has many online guides and resources that are specifically for business owners and leaders. We have provided a few links to the key pages below:


It really is an unpredictable and unprecedented time and most businesses need support with adapting to change, managing their employees and understanding their employer obligations – that’s where we come in! Edwards HR is the trusted partner for many heavy industry and professional services businesses. Here’s how you can reach us:


Stay up to date with us on social media too:


Your referral is the greatest compliment we could ever ask for. Please tell your colleagues, friends and family about your experience with us and feel free to leave us a review on Google or Facebook!


Book a Free Consultation

Free 30-minute HR consultation and a review of your existing employment agreement,
with our no-obligation recommendations.