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Fair Work Act JobKeeper Provisions

A series of temporary changes have been made to the Fair Work Act. The changes apply (only) to employers who have qualified for the JobKeeper scheme and their eligible employees. At this stage, the changes are effective until 28th September 2020.

The changes are designed to support the implementation and operation of the JobKeeper scheme and essentially provide employers with more flexibility in terms of managing their staff during this period. The new temporary allow employers to:

1. Issue full or partial stand down directions

An eligible employer can direct an eligible employee to temporarily (as a result of business changes related to the pandemic such that the employee cannot be "usefully employed"):

  • not work on 1 or more days that they usually work
  • work for a shorter period than the employee usually works on a particular day or days
  • work less hours overall than the employee usually works.

2. Direct employees to perform different duties and/or perform work at a different location

There are restrictions relating to the exercise of each of these directions which need to be considered. These include:

  • notifying the employee in writing at least 3 days before giving the JobKeeper enabling direction (unless the employee genuinely agrees to a shorter timeframe)
  • consulting with the employee (or their representative) about the direction and keeping a written record of the consultation
  • giving the employee the direction in writing, and
  • the direction being reasonable, taking into account all of the employee's circumstances, including any caring responsibilities.

In addition, in the case of direction to perform different duties and/or perform work at a different location, the employer must reasonably believe that the direction about location of work is necessary to continue the employment of 1 or more employees.

Under further temporary changes to the Fair Work Act, employers and employees can reach agreement to (a) alter an employee's days and times of work, and (b) the employee taking paid annual leave at full or half pay. In relation to these issues, the employee is required to consider and not unreasonably refuse a request of their employer.

This is a summary only and should be considered general information only. If as an employer you are thinking of utilising these new provisions it is recommended that you seek our or other professional support. Refer here for further information from the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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