Employer Rights and Assistance During COVID-19

Business Tips & Advice
August 11, 2020

On the 8th of April 2020, legislation passed both Houses of Parliament for Workplace Flexibility and JobKeeper. For most modern Awards, Fair Work amendments have now been included. The basic summary of Workplace Flexibility Arrangements is:

  • An employer who qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme may alter the employee’s duties and location for the employee’s work.
  • These directions must be safe, reasonable and within the skills and competencies of the employee.  
  • These directions must be within the scope of the business’ operations.
  • The rate of pay will be no less than the employee’s current rate of pay or the relevant rate of pay in the employee’s Award/Agreement - whichever is greater.
  • An employer can alter an employee’s hours of work by directing an employee to change either:
  • The days the employee works,
  • The number of hours in the day the employee works,
  • Or, reduce the employee’s hours to zero (i.e. stand down)
  • This only applies where the employee cannot be usefully employed at their normal days or hours because of changes attributable to COVID-19 pandemic; or government initiatives to slow the spread of COVID-19 - e.g. Stage 4 Lockdown

The following conditions also apply:

  • The intent to give the employee the direction must be in writing
  • They must be provided at least three days notice before action is taken
  • The employee must be consulted, and written records of consultations must be kept
  • The stand down provisions do not apply where an employee is on paid/unpaid authorised leave
  • If an employer qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme in relation to an employee, the employee must consider and must not unreasonably refuse the employer’s request to take annual leave, provided that the leave arrangement will not result in a leave balance of less than two weeks
  • In the absence of an employee’s agreement, the matter can be settled by Fair Work
  • Employees can agree to taking leave at half pay, but their leave will still accrue on the employees ordinary hours.

For more information, check the Fair Work website here, or if in doubt, please seek professional advice. Our team at Trak is not qualified to offer case-by-case advice. The basic summary of JobKeeper Payment legislation is:

  • Businesses affected by COVID-19 can receive $1,500 per employee, per fortnight
  • The business must pass this payment onto their staff
  • The wage subsidy package is budgeted for six months at:
  • $1,500 i.e. until the 27th September 2020,
  • $1,200 for full time employees and $750 for part time employees from 28th September 2020 until 3rd January 2021,
  • $1,000 for full time employees and $650 for part time employees from 4th January 2021 until 28th March 2021
  • To qualify, employees need to be full-time, part-time or in a casual position where they have been employed regularly by the same employer for more than a year.
  • Employees need to be either:
  • An Australian citizen
  • Someone with a permanent visa
  • A Protected Special Category visa holder
  • A non-protected Special Category Visa holder who has been residing continually in Australia for 10 or more years
  • Or, a Special Category (Subclass 444) visa holder
  • Employees must have been in employment as at:
  • 1st of March 2020 to be eligible for JobKeeper 1 payments (ending September 2020)
  • 1st of July 2020 to be eligible for JobKeeper 2 payments (ending 31st December 2020)
  • The JobKeeper payment is taxable

Further payment on the JobKeeper extension and a Fact Sheet can be found here. At Trak we strive to provide our users with the best and most up-to-date information in regards to Government restrictions and incentives. However, we are aware even still that not all information is clear and decisive, leaving many unsure as to how their business will be affected and with questions such as:

  • Am I eligible as a sole trader to JobKeeper?
  • Can I ask staff to work reduced hours or days?
  • What if I can only do 1 job per week?
  • How do I apply for these grants?

Unfortunately we are not qualified to answer case-by-case questions. However, we have reached out to the professionals and Shirley Rawson from the boutique accounting firm, Shiral Star is ready to answer your queries and point you in the right direction.Shirley applies her vast experience as a chartered accountant, to offer practical solutions to modern day issues such as JobKeeper, stand downs and other payroll issues. For Trade Trak users, Shiral Star offers specialised information and packages to help minimise the impact on your business during these tough times.Shirley and her team are ready to take your calls or answer your emails to clarify your entitlements. To get in touch with Shirley, please contact her at:Email: shirley@shiralstar.com.au Mobile: 0408 336 028

Click here to check out the Trak blog for more articles.

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