Current as at 26 August 2020: As you may already be aware on 21 July 2020 the Federal Government extended the JobKeeper Payment scheme until 28 March 2021 to ensure more Australians can stay in jobs and more businesses can survive the economic fallout of this pandemic.
The USU/ASU along with the Australian union movement welcomes this extension and we will continue to campaign for all workers to receive the financial assistance they require.
The existing JobKeeper Payment will remain in place until 27 September 2020. The rules for accessing the payment under existing eligibility requirements remain unchanged for periods up until 27 September 2020, except for the change to the date of employment to 1 July 2020 that determines employee eligibility. Please note that we are expecting the Government to release updated regulations that may alter eligibility for the extended scheme shortly and will provide an update to members as soon as those are released.
Adjustments to employee eligibility
From 3 August 2020, the relevant date of employment to determine eligibility has been extended from 1 March 2020 to 1 July 2020. This is designed to increase employee eligibility for both the existing scheme as well as the new extension period from 28 September 2020. Staff who were hired after 1 March 2020 may now be eligible for JobKeeper.
Casual employees will still be required to have been employed on a systematic basis for 12 months as is required under the existing scheme.
OVERVIEW OF THE TWO SCHEMES:
- The current JobKeeper scheme period operates from Monday 30 March 2020 to Sunday 27 September 2020 [Current Scheme].
- The proposed extended JobKeeper scheme period will operate from 28 September 2020 to Sunday 28 March 2021 [Extended Scheme].
The current JobKeeper payment is $1500 per fortnight, before tax.
What happens if I usually earn more than $1500 per fortnight?
If you are still working your usual hours and your employer is eligible, you won’t notice a difference in your income, you will continue to be paid for the hours that you work, and the JobKeeper payment will assist your employer to subsidise your wage. You will still receive superannuation on your full income.
What happens if I usually earn less than $1500 per fortnight?
If you are still working your usual hours and your employer is eligible, you will receive the $1500 per fortnight JobKeeper allowance. With JobKeeper your employer receives the same payment for every eligible employee no matter your salary or whether you worked 35 hours per week or 10 hours a week.
What happens if I have been stood down or my hours have been reduced?
This is called a JobKeeper enabled stand down direction.
If your employer uses this measure and reduces your hours but your fortnightly salary is still more than $1500 per fortnight, then your employer will need to pay you for every hour that you work and they will use the JobKeeper payment to subsidise part of your income.
If your employer significantly reduces your hours (including down to no work hours) and therefore your fortnightly income falls below $1500, you will then receive the JobKeeper payment of $1500 per fortnight before tax.
If you are on a JobKeeper enabled stand down you will only receive superannuation for the hours that you actually work. If your hours have been reduced to nil hours you will not receive superannuation on the JobKeeper payment.
A JobKeeper enabling stand down direction does not apply while an employee is taking paid or unpaid leave authorised by the employer (for example, annual leave).
What is the impact of JobKeeper on annual leave, unpaid leave and parental leave?
You can receive JobKeeper if you are on annual leave or unpaid leave.
Employees receiving Parental Leave Pay or Dad and Partner Pay from Services Australia are not eligible for the JobKeeper Payment. However, employees on parental leave from their employer will be eligible.
If you were on Parental Leave in the months leading up to 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020 and meet all of the eligibility requirements, you can nominate for JobKeeper even if on Parental Leave.
What about workers compensation?
Employees receiving workers compensation will be eligible for the JobKeeper Payment if they are working, for example on reduced hours, but will generally not be eligible if they are not working.
WHAT CHANGES CAN MY EMPLOYER MAKE?
My employer wants to change my duties. Are they allowed?
Yes. If your employer qualifies for JobKeeker they may direct a change to your duties as long as they are safe, the employee is licensed and qualified to perform the duties and they are reasonably within the scope of your employer’s business operations. An employee does not have to comply if it is unreasonable in all the above circumstances. The employer must give at least three days’ written notice of their intention (unless otherwise agreed) and ensure consultation has occurred.
My employer wants me to work from home. Are they allowed?
Yes. Your employer may direct you to perform duties at a place that is different from your normal workplace (including the employee’s home). The direction may be given if the place is suitable for the employee’s duties, it does not require the employee to travel an unreasonable distance and the location is safe.
A direction to change work location does not apply where it impacts on caring responsibilities of an employee. The employer must give at least three days’ written notice of their intention (unless otherwise agreed) and ensure consultation has occurred.
My employer wants me to work different days or at different times. Are they allowed?
By agreement between an employer and employee an arrangement to work on different days or at different times may be arranged. As long as the agreement does not reduce the employee’s number of hours of work compared with the employee’s ordinary hours of work.
An employee must consider and must not unreasonably refuse the employer’s request for agreement to the changed arrangements.
Do I have to take annual leave if my employer asks me to?
Under the new legislation an employer may ask an employee to take paid annual leave and/or to agree to take annual leave at half pay. An employee must consider (and must not unreasonably refuse) their employer’s request to take annual leave, provided that the leave arrangement would not result in reducing the employee’s leave balance to fewer than two weeks. If the employee does not agree to the request, the FWC could settle a dispute about this by arbitration
Do I have to take long service leave if my employer asks me to?
No. Under the new legislation there is no provision for your employer to make you take long service leave.
I have a salary sacrifice arrangement with my employer. Can it continue?
Yes. The JobKeeper payment may be paid to an employee in cash or as a fringe benefit or extra superannuation contribution where the employee and employer agree.
Can I work another job while I am stood down or if my hours have been reduced?
Yes. If you have been stood down or your hours have been reduced you can make a request to your employer to engage in secondary employment, training or professional development. An employer must consider and not unreasonably refuse such requests. You will still receive the JobKeeper payment.
EXTENDED SCHEME – AFTER 27 SEPTEMBER 2020
JobKeeper Payment rate
After 27 September 2020 the JobKeeper payment will move to a two-tiered system. This two-tiered system depends on the number of hours worked by an eligible employee in the pre-COVID-19 environment. The payment rates also differ between the extension periods, as outlined below:
JobKeeper program extension period
JobKeeper payment rate
28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021
· $1,200 per fortnight for employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, were working for 20 hours or more a week (on average); and
· $750 per fortnight for other employees
4 January 2021 and 28 March 2021
· $1,000 per fortnight for employees who, in the four weeks of pay periods before 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020, were working for 20 hours or more a week (on average); and
· $650 per fortnight for other employees
Businesses and not-for-profits will be required to nominate which payment rate they are claiming for each of their eligible employees. The eligibility rules for employees remain unchanged.
The JobKeeper Payment will continue to be made by the ATO to employers in arrears. Employers will still be required to pay eligible employees equal to, or greater than, the relevant amount of the JobKeeper payment (before tax).
From 28 September 2020, businesses and not-for-profits seeking to claim JobKeeper Payment will be required to re-assess their eligibility for the JobKeeper extension with reference to their actual turnover in the September quarter 2020. Businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in this quarter to be eligible for JobKeeper from 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021.
Businesses and not-for-profits will need to further reassess their eligibility in January 2021 for the period from 4 January to 28 March 2021. Businesses and not-for-profits will need to demonstrate that they have met the relevant decline in turnover test in the December quarter 2020 to remain eligible for the March quarter 2021.
Other eligibility rules for businesses and not-for-profits and their employees remain unchanged.
NB: There is current legislation before Parliament which will allow businesses that previously received JobKeeper by do not re-qualify under the new eligibility rules to be known as “legacy employers” and this will allow legacy employers to alter working arrangements in a number ways. Once the legislation has passed the ASU will provide an updated bulletin with all of the relevant information.
Disclaimer: This is general guidance only and was correct at the time of writing at 26 August 2020.
The USU/ASU will continue to be by your side through this challenging time.
If you have any questions or concerns please contact your union branch for more information.