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The Fair Work Ombudsman has sent out an information in important coronavirus updates, including the JobKeeper scheme and unpaid pandemic leave, including advising of the recent changes to workplace laws to support employees and employers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Fair Work Act has been amended to support the implementation and operation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme (JobKeeper scheme) in Australian workplaces. These changes are temporary and will end on 28 September 2020.
The JobKeeper scheme helps employers significantly affected by coronavirus to keep paying their employees, by providing a subsidy administered by the Australian Tax Office. The changes also give eligible employers the ability to give certain directions to and make agreements with their eligible employees to help manage their business.
Unpaid pandemic leave & annual leave changes to awards
The Fair Work Commission has added a temporary new schedule into 99 awards to provide greater flexibility during the coronavirus pandemic. The temporary schedule gives employees:
- 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave
- the ability to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay if their employer agrees.
The schedule applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 8 April 2020 until 30 June 2020. Find out more at Unpaid pandemic leave & annual leave changes to awards.
The Fair Work Commission has also made other temporary changes to some awards to provide more flexibility during the coronavirus outbreak – see Temporary changes to workplace laws during coronavirus.
Annual Wage Review
The Fair Work Commission is in the process of carrying out its annual review of minimum wages. A decision is expected sometime in June. This will be quite interesting, as has been widely reported, the only people to have suffered wage loss during this crisis is the private sector, with the public sector continuing on with EBA’s providing continuing pay increases. This weighed against the ruination of the economy will be a test of fairness against economic reality.
Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws
If your workplace is impacted by coronavirus, the Fair Work Ombudsman has information about workplace rights and obligations. This includes information about:
- Stand downs and reducing hours or changing location of work, including working from home.
- Pay and leave entitlements, including if someone is sick with COVID-19.
- Entitlements if an employee is stuck overseas or is required to be quarantined or self-isolate.
- Ending employment and redundancy entitlements.
For more information, see Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws.
Safe Work Australia resources
The Safe Work Australia website provides a hub of work health and safety guidance and tools that Australian workplaces can use to manage health and safety risks related to COVID-19. It includes industry-specific guidance, information about physical distancing, personal protective equipment, cleaning, workers’ compensation, conducting risk assessments and designing emergency plans, and case studies showing how to manage COVID-19 risks in the workplace. Find out more on Safe Work Australia’s website COVID-19 Information for workplaces.