The Federal Government’s $130 – Billion Job Keeper Package is supposed to be the saviour for workers to weather the Coronavirus Economic Storm.
However, the package which is supposed to tie the employers and workers together is riddled with inconsistencies and to quote a Deputy President in a recent Fair Work hearing “very badly written”.
More than 730,000 businesses have already registered for Job Keeper payments for workers, however the scheme’s rules are very complicated and often vague which is leading to varying interpretations to how the legislation is designed to work.
A lot of confusion surrounding it is also mounting about how to manage casual employees during the crisis.
This has led to many employers pressuring casual employees to increase their hours if they wish to receive Job Keeper Payments.
The Fair Work Ombudsman says employers could not push staff to increase their hours in return for receiving the payment.
“If a qualifying employer wants to ask an eligible employee to work additional hours (in excess of their ordinary hours) while the employer is receiving Job Keeper payments, the usual requirements of the Fair Work Act apply” the Ombudsman said.
“If the only reason for a request to work additional hours is to ‘match’ the amount of Job Keeper payment that is not likely to be reasonable”.
“Additionally”, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) States that an Employer cannot refuse a casual employee the Job Keeper rate if they can’t work additional hours to ‘match’ the rate. The ATO says that employers can’t pick and choose which of their staff should be eligible for Job Keeper. The ATO states that, in the “one in all in principle, an employer cannot refuse to apply for Job Keeper for an eligible employee”.
The ATO also states that if an employer tries to pick and choose and breach the “one in all in rule”, they are exposed to a range of consequences ranging up to criminal offence.
In a statement, Federal Attorney General Christian Porter says that employers must ensure they comply with existing employment laws.
“Nothing in the temporary changes to the law to facilitate Job Keeper payments allow an employer to compel anyone to work more than their usual hours” the statement said.
If you or workers in your workplace are experiencing difficulties around receiving Job Keeper payments, please contact your USU Workplace Delegate or your USU Organiser. You can also contact our Help Desk on 1300 136 604 or go to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are not a member and wish to join please contact any of the above or go to www.usu.org.au and head to the join page.
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