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The Commission has published a new JobKeeper disputes benchbook.

On 9 April 2020, the Fair Work Act was temporarily amended to introduce a new Part 6-4C to help with the implementation of the JobKeeper payment scheme. Under the new Part 6-4C, the Commission has a role in helping parties resolve some disputes relating to the JobKeeper payment scheme.

The benchbook has been prepared by staff of the Commission to provide information about the Commission’s role in dealing with JobKeeper disputes.

The Commission’s focus on assisting parties quickly

The Commission recognises that dealing with disputes quickly can help minimise disruptions at workplaces and help parties to move on sooner. The Commission also recognises that it is important to prioritise JobKeeper disputes given that the JobKeeper jurisdiction will end on 28 September 2020.

Deputy President Gostencnik was appointed the National Practice Leader for JobKeeper dispute applications.

Within hours of the JobKeeper provisions being introduced, the Commission:

A JobKeeper Case Management Team was also established provide administrative support to the National Practice Leader by ensuring that JobKeeper dispute applications are processed quickly, between the hours of 8am to 8pm AEST on weekdays, and 9am to 5pm AEST on weekends and public holidays.

In a statement of 8 May 2020 (PDF) Justice Ross announced timeliness benchmarks for JobKeeper disputes. A key timeliness benchmark for JobKeeper dispute applications is that 90% of cases should be finalised within 4 days, and 100% within 14 days. The statement also includes other statistics about JobKeeper dispute applications lodged.

Since the benchmarks were announced, Commission Members and staff have prioritised JobKeeper dispute applications and dealt with JobKeeper disputes in an expedited way.

How the Commission can assist with JobKeeper disputes

The Commission has the power to deal with disputes about the JobKeeper provisions of the Fair Work Act.

The Commission can deal with a JobKeeper dispute by:

  • arbitration
  • mediation or conciliation
  • by making a recommendation, or
  • by expressing an opinion.

If a JobKeeper dispute appears to be within the Commission’s jurisdiction, the application will be allocated to a Member of the Commission, generally for a conference.