Government provides insight into changes to the Fair Work Act 2009

8 April 2020

Yesterday, Christian Porter MP disclosed further details of the Government’s ‘JobKeeper’ legislation, which will amend the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) to enable qualifying employers to:

  • Implement “JobKeeper enabling stand downs”, allowing employers to alter hours worked by employees while applying the Act’s existing ‘useful employment test’, while “taking into account the pandemic and government and policy responses to stop the spread of COVID-19”.
  • Change duties and locations of work provided it is safe and reasonable in all the circumstances and falls within the employee’s competency and the scope of the business.
  • With agreement, change employees’ ordinary working days and reach agreement with employees to take annual leave, provided they have at least two (2) week’s leave entitlement remaining.

The Minister also announced that the Fair Work Commission (Commission) would have the power to review “JobKeeper enabling stand downs” and to adjudicate disputes brought by the changes.

The Minister stated that under the changes, employees will stay on the same rate of pay, even though they may be working reduced hours. To further explain this, the Minister stated:

“There’s provisions in the Bill that say that if, for instance, you’re earning $2200, but there’s only enough work for $1500 worth and you can only get the $1500 payment, you can only work the hours that would be the pro rata equivalent to $1500.”

As discussed in our 4 April 2020 Alert, the Government’s JobKeeper Scheme aims to help employers continue to pay employees’ wages.

Discussion in respect of these changes is taking place at the time of writing. EMA Legal will continue to provide employers with updates as further information is released.

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