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Corona Virus in the Workplace

JobKeeper changes to Employment Arrangements

Temporary changes have been made to the Fair Work Act to enable employers and employees to fully utilise the JobKeeper wage subsidies.

These changes apply only to employers who are eligible to receive payments under the JobKeeper scheme.

If your business is not eligible for JobKeeper, these changes to the Fair Work Act do not apply to you. The existing arrangements applicable to your business still apply

Employers qualified for the JobKeeper scheme, are able to:

  • Make temporary and partial stand downs in certain circumstances
  • Temporarily alter employees usual duties and locations of work in certain circumstances
  • Agree with Employees to alter days and times of work and to use annual leave in certain circumstances

Implementing these changes in your business

People Smartz has begun putting together the tools needed to implement these arrangements into businesses already working with us.

If you require implementation assistance , please contact us.

Important note regarding minimum entitlements

These changes do not reduce minimum pay rates and other entitlements under the Fair Work Act.

They also do not change any applicable awards conditions etc in relation to work that is performed by an employee such as overtime, penalties etc

This means that, for any hours an employee actually works, the employee must be paid at their correct base pay rate for the work they are performing.

If an employer changes and employees duties, the employer must pay, the higher of:

  • The base rate that applied to the employees previous duties, or
  • The base rate that applies to the new duties the employee is performing.

JobKeeper enabling Stand down Directions

Directions to reduce hours or days of work, are called “JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Directions” .

As “Directions”, they may be implemented by the Employer to structure work arrangements to meet the needs of the business during a period where it is effected by COVID-19.

All JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Directions must be given in writing. You must also notify and consult with your employees regarding the direction at least 3 days prior to issuing the direction.

directions to reduce Hours or Days of Work (temporary and Partial stand Down)

You can only give a JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Direction in regard to reducing hours or days of work when a number of circumstances exist. They are:

  • Because of the pandemice, the employee can not be usefully employed for their normal days or hours. This includes government initiatives to slow the transmission of the virus
  • The direction must be able to be implemented safely, including in regard to the nature and spread of COVID-19
  • The direction must be reasonable given the circumstances including (but not limited to) the caring responsibilities of the employee

JobKeeper Enabling Directions

Directions to change usual duties and change work locations are called “JobKeeper Enabling Directions” .

As “Directions”, they may be implemented by the Employer to structure work arrangements to meet the needs of the business during a period where it is effected by COVID-19.

All JobKeeper Enabling Directions must be given in writing. You must also notify and consult with your employees regarding the direction at least 3 days prior to issuing the direction.

Direction to change Usual Duties or Work Location

A qualifying employer can direct an employee to change their duties and work location. This can include working from a different location, including working from home.

To implement a change to duties and/or location, an employer needs to make sure:

  • The direction is reasonable, taking into account the employees caring responsibilities
  • The modified duties are within the skill and competence range of the employee
  • That the employee holds all required licences and/or qualifications to undertake the modified duties
  • That the duties are safe, particularly considering the spread and nature of the virus
  • That any new location is within a reasonable traveling distances

Changes by Agreement

The changes enable qualifying employees and employers to agree to:

  • For the Employee to work different times and days of work; and
  • For the employee to take annual leave at either full pay or half pay.

If an employer requests an employee to consider a change, or to take annual leave, the employee must reasonably consider the request and the request cannot be unreasonably refused.

Agreements to Work different times and days

Qualifying employers and employees may agree for the employee to perform their usual duties on different days or times. Employers need to ensure that the change is safe considering the nature and spread of the virus. It must also be reasonably within the scope of the businesses operations.

Under this arrangement, the employees usual work hours are not reduced – to reduce hours would require a JobKeeper Enabling Direction.

Agreement to Take Annual Leave

A qualifying employer may request an employee take paid annual leave. An employee can not unreasonably refuse a request to take annual leave.

Some important points to note in regard to these changes:

  • The employee must keep a balance of at least 2 weeks leave after the agreed annual leave is taken. This does not apply if the leave is based on the request of an employee to take annual leave.
  • An employer and employee may agree to the employee taking annual leave at half their usual pay rate
  • Employees will continue to accrue leave and their service continues for the purposes of redundancy and pay in lieu of notice.

Need more Information

For more information, please contact People Smartz Pty Ltd on:

You can also access information on various aspects of the JobKeeper Wage Subsidy Scheme thorough:

The Treasury JobKeeper Website Page

The Australian Tax Office JobKeeper Website Page

Fair Work Ombudsman Website Page on JobKeeper changes to the Fair Work Act

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