The JobKeeper scheme has been a significant support to employers as well as employees. It has allowed employers to continue operating with sufficient staff to maintain required safety standards.
The JobKeeper scheme, in place since 30 March 2020, ended on 28 March 2021. What does this mean for your business and how it is resourced to continue to operate safely?
How does the end of JobKeeper impact my business?
On and from 29 March 2021:
- JobKeeper qualifying employers will no longer receive a wage subsidy for their JobKeeper eligible employees;
- any JobKeeper-enabling directions issued by an employer (including stand down directions, variations to days and hours of work, location and directions to perform certain duties) currently in force will cease to have effect, and the majority of the JobKeeper amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (FW Act) will be repealed, including provisions allowing:
- employers to pay the JobKeeper wage subsidy to employees, rather than their ordinary remuneration, in cases where employees have not been performing work that would otherwise entitle them to an amount exceeding the JobKeeper payment; and
- qualifying employers and employers who previously qualified for the JobKeeper to issue JobKeeper-enabling directions.
In other words, from 29 March 2021, employers must revert to pay and working arrangements in accordance with employees’ applicable terms and conditions of employment, and employers can no longer validly issue any JobKeeper-enabling directions. By way of example, an employee whose working hours were reduced because of a valid JobKeeper-enabling direction are entitled to return to their ordinary hours of work and pay.
Key considerations for employers
Employers will need to consider their workforce requirements and whether their business can accommodate all returning employees.
Employers who are navigating the end of the JobKeeper scheme should consider taking the following steps:
- Review business workforce requirements and financial capacity to retain employees.
- Assess whether a restructure will be needed and if so, what it may look like. Restructuring a business could involve mutual agreements to vary terms of employment, including in relation to remuneration, duties and responsibilities, location, basis of employment (full-time, part-time or casual), and ordinary hours of work and/or redundancies.
- Consider the legal basis for the current work arrangements. Employees who have been working altered arrangements based on a JobKeeper-enabling direction will return to their pre-JobKeeper ordinary hours of work, while employees who have altered their working arrangements based on a variation to their contract of employment may continue to work according to their varied hours of work, subject to the terms agreed.
- Consider the hours or availability of current employees and issue a notice regarding the end of the JobKeeper scheme. In this notice, employers should request confirmation of an employee’s availability to return to their ordinary hours of work.
- Meet and consult with employees regarding any restructuring proposals, and consider employees’ availability to return to their pre-JobKeeper employment. Employees’ availability may impact the businesses’ restructuring requirements
- Implement any required restructure.