The outbreak of Covid-19 has placed immense financial strain on Australian businesses and their employees. To keep more Australians in jobs during this pandemic, the Federal Government is providing support for business, including through the Economic Response Package and JobKeeper payments.
Under JobKeeper, businesses can continue paying eligible employees up to $1,500 per fortnight.
Because some employees eligible for Jobkeeper will now be paid differently to their ordinary wages, temporary changes have been made to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) which provide employers with new powers to change the ordinary hours, duties and location of work.
These provisions are called JobKeeper enabling directions, and include the ability for an employer to:
- Issue a stand down direction to an employee, which can include reducing the employee’s hours of work and/or changing the employee’s usual work days;
- Change the employee’s duties, provided the alternative duties are within the skillset of the employee; and
- Direct an employee to perform their duties from another location, including working from home.
If an employer provides a JobKeeper stand down direction, the employer must either pay the employee $1,500 per fortnight, or the employee’s usual pay for the work performed, whichever is higher. This means, if the employee is usually paid less than $1,500 per fortnight, they will still be entitled to the full JobKeeper payment.
When an employer issues a JobKeeper stand down direction, the employee’s usual terms and conditions of employment (under a contract, Modern Award or enterprise agreement) will continue to apply.
There is still time to apply for the JobKeeper scheme, as the Federal Government has extended the enrolment period to 31 May 2020.
If you need assistance or advice on how the changes to the Fair Work Act effect you, please contact Keir Steele Waldon Lawyers to discuss.