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    The massive changes that could affect every Australian worker after the coronavirus pandemic

    Four-day weeks, staggered start times and DOUBLE annual leave: The massive changes that could affect every Australian worker after the pandemic

    • Fair Work Commission have proposed a draft to change awards after COVID-19 
    • Clauses include working from home agreements such as start times and location
    • Research found 46 per cent of Australians are more productive working at home
    • But many Australian workers have expressed a keenness to return to the office 
    • Working from home has also ruined CBD economies with a huge drop in footfall 

    Workers could soon be allowed to work just four days a week or enjoy more annual leave than ever before if flexible working from home proposals are given the green light. 

    Employees and bosses will be able to agree on flexible working from home arrangements during the coronavirus pandemic under a proposal from the Fair Work Commission.

    But there are concerns the generous new working model, designed to help Australians ease back into the office during the pandemic, could bankrupt small businesses who rely on commuters footfall.

    Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross has released a draft plan to change awards, including a provision allowing working from home arrangements that ‘balance personal and work responsibilities’ against the employer’s business needs.

    The Fair Work Commission have proposed a draft to change awards after COVID-19 to include working from home clauses including double annual leave (pictured, a woman on holiday)

    Employees could be able to compress their week, so usual hours are worked over fewer days as long as the usual workload is complete.

    Starting and finishing times could also be staggered and employees directed to work at home or other locations.

    Workers could even opt to take double the annual leave at half pay and also buy extra time off if bosses agree.

    With the agreement of three quarters of a workforce, a cut to hours could be shared if an employer can’t usefully use all emplopyees. 

    Justice Ross said working from home had been one of the most significant shifts since the start of the pandemic.

    ‘It is likely the direct economic and social impacts of the pandemic will be felt for some time to come,’ he said.

    Additions to contracts could include working from home agreements such as start times, location and compressing your work hours to work less days (stock image)

    Additions to contracts could include working from home agreements such as start times, location and compressing your work hours to work less days (stock image)

    Despite working from home benefits, many Australian workers have expressed a keenness to return to the office. Pictured: a pedestrian wearing a face mask travels in Sydney CBD amid the coronavirus pandemic in August

    Despite working from home benefits, many Australian workers have expressed a keenness to return to the office. Pictured: a pedestrian wearing a face mask travels in Sydney CBD amid the coronavirus pandemic in August

    ‘There will (likely) be a continuing need for flexible work arrangements to assist employers and employees in adapting to the changed conditions and to support the recovery.’

    The draft proposal could be potentially be included in modern awards, most of which don’t explicitly deal with working from home.

    HOW YOUR WORK LIFE COULD CHANGE:

    The Fair Work Commission’s proposal could see staff reaching mutual agreements with their employers on a range of flexible working measures.

    Potential sanctions include: 

    – Employees making agreements to balance personal and work responsibilities with the needs of their employer 

    – The potential to compress your working week to work more hours on fewer days

    – Altered starting times and locations

    – Taking double annual leave at half pay 

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    The commission president said that could constrain working from home arrangements if business was forced to pay penalty rates or overtime, despite employees seeking flexibility.

    Australian Industry Group chief executive Innes Willox said the draft was an important initiative which would deliver flexibility.

    ‘A very large number of employees are currently working from home, and it is evident that workplaces will never be the same again,’ he said on Tuesday. 

    The economy is said to be suffering thanks to an increase in working from home, with small CBD businesses struggling due to a lack of foot-traffic from reduced onsite workers.

    Office vacancy rates in Sydney and Melbourne have jumped dramatically in the last six months, as businesses steady themselves for the lasting effects of the pandemic. 

    But many Australian workers have not expressed keenness to return to the office.

    Research conducted by office portal company Equiem found 46 per cent of Australians surveyed claimed they were more productive working from home.

    But some like Sydney recruiter Jen Davis have a yearning for office culture and the unity of a team environment. 

    ‘Being home is great for being able to get through the workload, but I find the being in the office great for connecting and engaging with people who do come in at the same time as me,’ Ms Davis said.

    Ms Davis believes many workers like to be in the office for work to distinguish a difference between their home and professional life.

    ‘Some people still do believe that unless you’re in the office you’re not technically working or there are questions over where you are and what you’re doing,’ she said.

    ‘It should be measured on output as opposed to location.’

    Research has found 46 per cent of Australians say they are more productive working at home (stock image)

     Research has found 46 per cent of Australians say they are more productive working at home (stock image)

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