The projected date for the reopening of the retail and hospitality sectors of 26 October 2020 (subject to case numbers being an average of 5 new daily cases in the preceding 14 days and public health advice) under the Roadmap to Reopening creates an additional problem for employers who are no longer eligible for JobKeeper payments and their employees.
Who does this affect?
Under JobKeeper 2.0, employers only continue to be eligible for the reduced JobKeeper payment (of $1,200 per fortnight) if they suffer a decrease of 30% in actual GST turnover measured for the September quarter. Many enterprising Victorian businesses used innovative and flexible approaches to avoid a 30% reduction. However, when Stage 4 lockdowns were imposed in the first week of August many retail and hospitality outlets were required to close or scale back on-site operations. Consequently, many employees were stood down but still covered by JobKeeper through to 28 September 2020.
Unfortunately, with the Stage 4 lock down affecting retail and hospitality in Victoria until at least 26 October, employers in the category mentioned above are left with no access to JobKeeper and the unpalatable reality of having to stand down their staff without pay until the Victorian Government permits the reopening of retail and hospitality on site.
What needs to happen?
This poses a problem for employers and employees alike in Victorian retail and hospitality sectors. One solution would be to bring forward and align with other industry sectors the projected reopening of retail and hospitality businesses on site to 28 September 2020 with CovidSafe plans and no cases of transmission. This would provide an opportunity for those businesses no longer eligible for JobKeeper to earn income and support staff. Alternatively, the Victorian Government as part of its business support package to be announced will need to supplement JobKeeper 2.0 targeted to retail and hospitality businesses experiencing an up to 30% reduction in turnover for the September quarter.
If you are facing JobKeeper or HR issues in light of the Stage 4 restrictions in Victoria, please contact our Workplace Relations team.