Details of the Federal government’s JobKeeper scheme have been added to By Lawyers Dealing with COVID-19 legal issues – Some practical information publication.
JobKeeper payment stimulus package
The purpose of the JobKeeper package is to assist employers to retain their employees and improve the viability of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the scheme, employers will receive $1,500 per employee fortnightly. Employees must be paid a minimum of $1,500 fortnightly before tax. The JobKeeper payment will be available from 30 March 2020 until 27 September 2020.
Employers pay their employees as usual and then get reimbursed by the ATO, monthly in arrears.
The new commentary covers the important aspects of the scheme. These include the eligibility criteria for both employers and employees. There are also answers to frequently asked questions.
A link is provided to the ATO website which sets out how to Enrol for the JobKeeper payment.
New powers for employers under the JobKeeper scheme
The Federal parliament has complemented the JobKeeper scheme by giving new powers to employers covered by the scheme. The Fair Work Act has been amended by the insertion of Part 6-4C that allows an employer to temporarily modify employment terms and conditions, if they are eligible for the JobKeeper scheme. This is referred to as an employer giving a ‘JobKeeper enabling direction’ to a particular employee.
The new powers include options for workforce flexibility and reducing workforce costs. This gives eligible employers the ability to stand down employees or reduce their hours, change the duties they perform, or change their location of work. The amendments also allow an eligible employer to make an agreement with an employee about work days or times, as well as the employee taking annual leave, including at half pay.
Before a JobKeeper direction can be given, employers must meet minimum requirements. For example, employers need to satisfy consultation requirements which includes notifying the employee at least three days before making a JobKeeper enabling direction, or a lesser time by agreement. No forms have been prescribed for this purpose. By Lawyers has provided example content letters, which are available from within the commentary.
These amendments enable the Fair Work Commission to conciliate and arbitrate disputes about a JobKeeper direction or request.
For more information about the JobKeeper scheme refer to Dealing with COVID-19 legal issues – Some practical information, which is available in all By Lawyers guides.