After the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus (Measures No.2) Bill 2020 was passed on the 8th April 2020, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) was amended to allow its implementation. The changes are only temporary and are in place until 28 September 2020.
The scheme entitles businesses to receive a payment of $1500 per fortnight per eligible employee and employers must pay the full amount to the employee. (For more details about eligibility and how to register, please see here).
This new law allow employers to make some important changes in the way employees work, and this is to allow flexibility in these difficult times. Here is a summary of what employers can and cannot do under the JobKeeper provisions:
- Reduce employees’ hours (and stand down)
- Employers are allowed to request that their employees work fewer hours (or none at all) if they cannot be usefully employed due to the pandemic and it is safe to do so.
- Employees must be paid at least the full $1500 per fortnight even if they are stood down.
- This agreement must be in writing and at least 3 days’ notice must be given to the employee.
- Accrual of entitlement continues as normal and standing down does not break the continuity of service.
- Change duties, location and days of work
- Employers are allowed to direct the employees to perform any reasonable duties that are within their skills and competencies as long as it is safe, and that the employees have the required qualifications/certifications to perform the duties.
- Employers can request employees to work at a different location of their usual place of work as long as the location is suitable for the employee, is safe, not at an unreasonable distance and the duties are reasonably within the scope of the business’ operations.
- Employers can request employees to work on different days and times than usual as long as it is safe.
- Any change must be in writing and the employee must be consulted with at least 3 days before the change.
- Request to take Annual Leave
- Employers can request their employees to take Annual Leave including leave at half pay (a balance of 2 weeks must be kept as a minimum)
Employees entitlements will continue to accrue as normal even when employees have their hours or day changed. Furthermore, the employer cannot reduce an employee’s pay rate at any time or for any reason under the JobKeeper scheme.
If you’re still confused about your eligibility, take a look at this table created by Blandslaw which clearly outlines the dos and don’ts under the new job keeper provisions. For details contact Blandslaw.com.
If you have a HR, salary or rostering query or confused about your obligation around COVID-19 as an employer, then please book a 15 min free chat with one of our HR Consultants.