06/10/2022

Companies not eligible for the new JobKeeper because they have started to recover will need to demonstrate a 10 per cent reduction in turnover to remain eligible for the industrial relations exemptions that accompany the wage subsidy.

As revealed by The Australian Financial Review on Monday, the government softened its initial insistence that all businesses that were eligible for the first round of JobKeeper, but not the second, should remain eligible for exemptions to the Fair Work Act.
These exemptions enabled employers accessing JobKeeper to reduce a workers’ hours to as low as zero and to alter their duties, all without breaching the Fair Work Act.
This extra flexibility has helped keep businesses open and people in work.
But with one third of listed companies which are receiving JobKeeper also recording profit growth, Labor and the unions said the Fair Work Act exemptions should not apply to businesses which will not qualify for JobKeeper 2.0, which begins on September 28.
To qualify for JobKeeper 2.0, a business with an annual turnover of less than $1 billion must show its turnover has fallen more than 30 per cent between this September quarter and the same quarter last year.
Under the concessions made by the government, businesses which lose access to JobKeeper can remain eligible for the Fair Work Act exemptions if their turnover falls by at least 10 per cent in the September quarter, compared with the same quarter last year.
However, a worker for one of these businesses can not have his or her hours reduced below 60 per cent of their ordinary hours of work as of March 1, 2020.
Furthermore, an employee cannot be required to work fewer than two hours on a day when they work, and they must be given seven days written notice – up from three previously and for those receiving JobKeeper – of any reduction in hours.
Penalties for breaches range from a maximum $13,200 for employees to $66,600 for companies who dont meet the 10 per cent test but try to use the provisions.
For businesses which remain or become eligible for JobKeeper 2.0, the FWA exemptions which applied to the first JobKeeper will be unchanged.
Shadow industrial relations minister Tony Burke welcomed the concessions, saying it was “ridiculous” the government ever contemplated giving the FWA exemptions to businesses which had recovered.
However, the government has no intention of increasing the rates of the JobKeeper 2.0 subsidies.
“In the end, we have to get back to a situation where viable and profitable businesses pay for the wages of their employees out of their income not on the basis of taxpayer support,” Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.
“We are going to have to let the economy adjust to the new normal. We have to find out which businesses are going to be genuinely viable and profitable moving forward and able to pay for the wages for real jobs. We cannot just keep this going for years on end on the basis of taxpayer funded support.”