JobKeeper is changing – what you need to know

Wednesday July 29, 2020

By now you may have heard that JobKeeper will continue until 28 March 2021, but it will have a new format.

The Treasury announced the changes on 21 July along with their budget. In a nutshell, the changes will begin from 28 September and will include new eligibility criteria.

From now until 27 September, JobKeeper will remain the same and businesses who are receiving JobKeeper payments don’t need to do anything yet. From 28 September this year, a new tiered system will come into effect. Employees who ordinarily work less than 20 hours a week will receive JobKeeper payments at a reduced rate compared to their peers who work more than 20 hours per week.

The second important change is that JobKeeper payments will reduce each quarter between September 2020 and March 2021.

From September, businesses receiving JobKeeper will need to requalify. However, the JobKeeper extension will be open to new recipients – as long as their employees were employed on 1 March 2020.

In his speech, the Treasurer noted that, while COVID has hit Australia hard, the response from the Government to support businesses and households has meant we are in a relatively good position compared to many other countries.

Even so, the economic and fiscal outlook for Australia remains uncertain. 709,000 jobs were lost across the country in the June quarter with unemployment expected to peak at around 9.5% in the December quarter.

What does this mean for employers?

It’s clear from the budget forecasts and predictions that the pandemic will continue to impact employment rates and the ability of employers to hold onto their staff.

Most employees will have heard this news as well, creating fear of unemployment and stress which could lead to lost productivity, reduced motivation and the potential for mental health problems. That’s why it’s so important to have open communication with your staff.

Even if you don’t have all answers yet, simply reassuring staff that you are working on the numbers and will keep them in the loop, can be enough to ease their worries in the short term.

With the changes only kicking-in on 28 September, employers have an opportunity to be proactive by commencing workforce planning now, in preparation for the upcoming changes to JobKeeper. The HR Dept is here to help with expert advice to get you through this challenging period.

To ensure you move into the next 6-12 months on the right foot, your workforce planning should include identifying:

  • Your business direction for the next 6-12 months
  • What workforce skills, capabilities and competencies you’ll need during that time
  • Policy and strategy requirements to assist in achieving your future goals

All workforce planning needs to reflect your revenue needs and forecasts. Even more importantly, whatever you choose to do with workforce planning, you’ll need to ensure you remain compliant with Fair Work requirements. Remember you need to take into account the National Employment Standards and any Award, Agreement or contractual requirements if you need to terminate employment or enforce redundancies. This applies to employees who were stood down or who are currently on JobKeeper.

Should you need assistance with your workforce planning or managing terminations, the HR Dept is here to help. We can also help you navigate the requirements of the National Employment Standards and relevant awards. For expert advice and help, get in touch.

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