JobKeeper has been widely lauded for mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for employers and employees but will come to an end on 28 March 2021.
What does this mean for businesses?
The Commonwealth Government financial support in the form of wage subsidies will no longer continue.
Employers will no longer be able to exercise flexible powers to standdown employees from their pre-COVID contracted hours or vary the duties of work or change the location of work without the consent of employees. Employers will still have a statutory power to stand down employees fully but only where an employee cannot be usefully employed at all due to public health orders or similar government direction.
If employers are unable to sustain an employee’s pre-COVID hours, it will be necessary to enter into a mutual variation of the contract of employment for reduced hours or modified duties or location of work.
Any agreed variation of the contract of employment should be documented.
If it is not possible to reach a new agreement as to the reduced hours of work, modified duties or location of work, employers will need to consider whether the employee’s position is redundant and consult with the employee about that redundancy and whether the employee can be reasonably redeployed in the business. Terminated employees are entitled to statutory redundancy pay except a small business with less than 15 employees.
What action should employers take now?
Employers are strongly recommended to consider their employment requirements post JobKeeper and, if required, enter into discussions with affected employees well prior to 28 March 2021.
Please do not hesitate to contact any member of our Workplace Relations and Safety team for further and specific advice.