Decoding the Horticulture Award 2020Individual Flexibility AgreementsBY STEPHEN FARRELL INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS CONSULTANT, VEGETABLESWAIf you have found yourself confused by the complexity of the hours worked arrangements in the Horticulture Award 2020, you are not alone.The Award states that “the ordinary hours of work for all full-time and part-time employees, other than shift workers, will not exceed 152 hours, over a 4-week period”.This can be quite problematic for employers where the demands of work for sections of their business can dramatically fluctuate between busy periods, such as harvesting.During this time, the demand for labour can be quite intensive compared with quieter periods, like after crops have been sown, when there is less to do.For many employers, structuring their workforce and rostering arrangements within the parameters set out in the Award is difficult.It can also be expensive, as hours in excess of those set out for employees in the four-week period are required to be paid as overtime.While the Award does provide for some ‘discount’ during the harvest period, employers are still required to pay overtime for the excess hours.An underused and often overlooked provision of the Award can be of assistance though.Clause five of the Award allows for individual employees to vary certain terms of the Award to suit their own individual circumstances.One of the terms of the Award that can be varied is the Hours clause.It is possible for employers to come to an arrangement with their employees to enter into an Individual Flexibility Agreement (IFA).This would enable employers to vary the hours clause to make arrangements so the hours required to be worked are spread out over a longer period.This means employees can work more hours when the workload is high and then have longer periods off work when the workload is not so high.There are a number of rules surrounding IFAs such as:One of the terms of the Award that can be varied is the Hours clause.An IFA must be in writing and be genuinely agreed to without coercion.An employer cannot make an IFA a condition of employment.An employee also cannot be treated adversely or discriminated against for not agreeing to an IFA.The IFA must result in the employee being better off overall than if no IFA had been agreed to at the time the agreement is made.IFAs can genuinely be useful in permitting employers, where they engage with and come to an agreement with employees, to arrange work so that it is able to be done efficiently and meeting the needs of both employers and employees.MORE INFORMATIONIf you require further assistance in coming to an agreement with employees and drafting an IFA, please contact Stephen Farrell: (08) 9460 3878, 0455 833 352, or go to