In the past few weeks we have all faced phenomenal change and many challenges in our daily lives.  We have been impacted both personally and professionally by the reverberations caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For all the turmoil, hardship and stress there has also been many reports of selflessness, kindness and generosity. These times have shown us that if we all do our part, whether it’s staying at home, not hording supplies or looking after our elderly – if we work together and think beyond ourselves, we can achieve great things.

There has been a lot of information to digest not just about the impact of the virus but also on the various government initiatives for both businesses and individuals. We hope that the information you find here will assist you in implementing some of these measure in your business and support you in moving forward with confidence.

JobKeeper Payments
The economic impact of the Coronavirus Pandemic poses significant challenges for many businesses,  many of which are struggling to retain employees. Under the JobKeeper Payment scheme, businesses significantly impacted by the Coronavirus Pandemic will be able to access a wage subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees. This assistance will help businesses to keep people in their jobs and re-start when the crisis is over.

For employees, this means they can keep their job and earn an income, with the Payment also being made available to the self-employed. The JobKeeper Payment is a temporary scheme whereby the Government will provide $1,500 per fortnight per employee for up to 6 months. The initiative will protect a significant number of jobs and keep many businesses afloat.

Current Government Fact Sheets on the JobKeeper Payments for employers can be downloaded below:

Download the Government Fact Sheet for Employers

Employees can also access information here.

Download Frequently asked questions about the JobKeeper Payment scheme

New pandemic leave

On 8 April 2020, the Fair Work Commission made determinations to vary 99 awards. The determinations inserted a temporary new schedule into these awards that provides employees with:

  • 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave; and
  • the ability to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay if their employer agrees.

The schedule in each award applies from an employee’s first full pay period on or after 8 April 2020 until 30 June 2020 and this date can be extended by application to the Commission.   Employees who are employed under one of the affected awards can access up to 2 weeks’ unpaid pandemic leave (or more by agreement with their employer) if they’re prevented from working:

  • as a result of being required to self-isolate by government or medical authorities, or acting on the advice of a medical practitioner, or
  • by measures taken by government or medical authorities in response to the pandemic (for example, an enforceable government direction restricting non-essential businesses).

The leave is available in full immediately to full-time, part-time and casual employees – they don’t have to accrue it. Employees don’t have to use all their paid leave before accessing unpaid pandemic leave.  The leave needs to start before 30 June 2020, but can finish after that date.

All eligible employees can take the 2 weeks’ leave and it is not pro-rated for employees who don’t work full-time.
Unpaid pandemic leave counts as service for entitlements under awards and the National Employment Standards.
The Commission may vary more awards to include similar provisions.

A current list of varied awards together with further details on pandemic leave can be found via the Fair Work Ombudsman website