Quick Summary of JobKeeper enabling stand down directions
JobKeeper 2.0 eligibility and amount of subsidy Changes to the Fair Work Act – Qualifying Employers From 28 September 2020, employers who remain eligible for JK 2.0 (referred to as Qualifying employers) can no longer request employees to take annual leave – usual rules in modern awards, enterprise agreements and the Fair Work Act will apply. All other JK Direction powers continue to exist. JobKeeper enabling stand down directions Qualifying employers can give eligible employees a direction to reduce their hours or days of work, including to work no hours in certain circumstances. These directions are referred to as a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction. Examples are: Not work on one or more days that they usually work Work for a shorter period than the employee usually works on a particular day or days Work less hours overall than the employee usually works Not work any hours at all. If a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction applies to an employee, the employee has to comply with it. When an employer can give a direction A qualifying employer can give an eligible employee a JobKeeper enabling stand down direction if: The employee can’t be usefully employed for their normal days or hours because of business changes attributable to: government initiatives to slow coronavirus transmission (such as an enforceable government direction); the coronavirus pandemic, or the employer meets the requirements for the direction, such as the direction being reasonable. How to give a direction To give a direction qualifying employer need to: Notify the employee in writing at least 3 days before giving the JobKeeper enabling stand down direction. This applies unless the employee genuinely agrees to a shorter timeframe. Consult with the employee (or their representative) about the direction and keep a written record of the consultation. Give the employee the direction in writing. When a direction is in place, it doesn't apply: When an employee is taking authorised paid or unpaid leave (such as annual leave or long service leave), or During any time the Fair Work Act says the employee is entitled to be absent from work (as opposed to taking leave), for example on a public holiday. Changes to the Fair Work Act – Legacy Employers Employers who are no longer eligible for JK 2.0 (“legacy employers”) can only use (more reduced) Fair Work Act flexibilities if they meet a 10% decline in turnover test and obtain a “10% Decline in Turnover Certificate” prior to each period. Legacy employers can give JK Directions to: Reduce employees’ hours, but the hours cannot be reduced to less than 60% of the employee’s ordinary hours as of 1 March 2020 and employees must work at least two consecutive hours per shift Change the duties of employees Change the location where the employees perform their work To give a direction legacy employer need to: Notify the employee in writing at least 7 days before giving the JobKeeper enabling stand down direction. Consult with the employee (or their representative) about the direction and keep a written record of the consultation. Give the employee the direction in writing. HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
In August 2019 the Full Federal Court of Australia determined that personal/carer’s leave was calculated in working days, not hours. That decision was overturned on 13 August 2020. The High court has clarified that: the entitlement to 10 days of personal/carer’s leave under the National Employment Standards (NES) is calculated based on an employee’s ordinary hours of work, not working days 10 days of personal/carer’s leave can be calculated as 1/26 of an employee’s ordinary hours of work in a year. This has now been reflected in the Fair Work Information Statement HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
Award Flexibility During the COVID-19 Pandemic Update
With the continued impact of COVID-19 on workplaces, the Fair Work Commission has announced the decision to extend in a number of modern awards the temporary Award Flexibility provisions and unpaid pandemic leave (Schedule X). The extension of the temporary Award Flexibility provisions affect the below modern awards: Restaurant Award Clerks Award Hospitality Award Vehicle Award Fast Food Award Education (General Staff) Award For full details go to the Fair Work Ombudsman’s website. The extended unpaid pandemic leave (Schedule X) effects some awards. There are different end dates for Schedule X so please ensure you check your Award. You can see a full list of Awards with unpaid pandemic leave and their new end dates by going to the Fair Work Ombudsman's website. HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
Today the Fair Work Commission announced a 1.75% increase to minimum awards wages. For anyone not covered by an award or an agreement, the new national minimum wage (NMW) will be $753.80 per week or $19.84 per hour. Unlike previous years, not all award increases will be effective the first full pay period starting on or after 1 July 2020. Instead, awards will start on 3 different dates for different groups of awards. The 3 groups are: Group 1 Awards - from 1 July 2020 Frontline Heath Care & Social Assistance Workers Teachers and Child Care Other Essential Services Group 2 Awards - from 1 November 2020 Construction Manufacturing A range of other industries Group 3 Awards - from 1 February 2021 Accommodation and Food Services Arts and Recreation Services Aviation Retail Tourism HOW CAN WE HELP? Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. Click here for further information or contact me directly at
Workplace legislation is complex and for ever changing. Over the last few months we have seen temporary changes to Modern Awards to accommodate the effects of COVID 19 in the workplace. For as little as $250 per month you can have access to unlimited workplace advice, HR templates and representation in the event of any complex workplace claim, without further legal costs. We will also carry out a compliance audit for you. Ease the HR headache and let us support you. For further information click here or contact me directly at
Temporary changes to the Fast Food Industry Award 2010
The Fair Work Commission recently announced temporary changes to the Fast Food Industry Award 2010 to allow for more flexibility for employers during COVID-19. The changes include new provisions for part-time employees and annual leave arrangements. These amendments are effective from the employee’s first full pay period on or after 19 May 2020 until 31 July 2020. These changes apply to employers under the Fast Food Award who do not qualify for JobKeeper and employees covered by the award who are not eligible for JobKeeper. To find out more click here! About Essential HR Essential HR, located in Adelaide, works in partnership with Employment Innovations, making employment easier by combining HR, legal & payroll services with technology. With a powerful combination of new age technology, partnerships and expertise, we will deliver efficiencies, compliance and forward thinking to your business that you never thought possible.
Ben Thompson (CEO at Employment Hero) and Simon Obee(Principal Lawyer at Employment Innovations) ran a very informative webinar yesterday looking at what the WorkPac v Rossato casual employee entitlements decision mean for your business? On 21 May, the court decision of WorkPac Pty Ltd v Rossato  FCAFC 84 gained a lot of (somewhat misleading) media attention and has left many Australian business owners feeling unsure where their casual employees stand. To see the helpful guide Ben and Simon have put together, unpacking the WorkPac v Rossato decision, click here.
Taking sick leave during stand down? Is this allowed?
On 18 May 2020, the Federal Court handed down its decision in Communications, Electrical, Electronic, Energy, Information, Postal, Plumbing and Allied Services Union of Australia & Ors v Qantas Airways Limited  FCA 656 which concerned accessing personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave during a period of stand down. The Federal Court has determined that employees stood down pursuant to s.524 and s.525 of the Fair Work Act 2009 are not able to take paid personal/carer’s leave (“sick leave”) or compassionate leave whilst stood down without pay. Find out more from EI legal: CLICK HERE
Opportunities to build a better business during and post COVID 19
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Australia has managed to challenge every aspect of business operation in a very short period of time. I am sure the experience has exposed many strengths and weaknesses in your business and continues to do so. I understand that many business owners, managers and employees are feeling a mixture of emotions: sadness, anxiety, stress, helplessness etc. However, I write this article, not to further communicate the horror effects COVID 19 is having on businesses, but to talk about the opportunities to build a better business post COVID 19 through good HR systems, practices and strategies. This experience has certainly highlighted the need for businesses to future proof themselves, and now is your opportunity to develop and implement changes that will achieve this. Some trigger points indicating there are opportunities to improve in your business are: • Drowning in paperwork? • Using antiquated or inapt technology? • Losing focus from the bigger picture? • Experiencing too many employee issues? • Unsure how to manage your employees? • Lacking updated policies and procedures? • Concerned about meeting your legal obligations? • Wasting money on inefficient HR and payroll systems? • Experiencing high staff turnover? • Hearing employee excuses instead of ownership? • Losing your best employees and customers? • Concerned your processes are a compliance risk? • Confused about who to ask regarding HR matters? Below I look at 5 opportunities you can implement during this period to future proof your business. Implementing better HR and Payroll systems and processes A good starting point that won’t cost you a fortune is implementing HR and Payroll technology such as EI Payroll and Employment Hero (HR Platform). Although they are two different platforms, they seamlessly integrate. Just by implementing these systems alone you will reduce time spent on HR administration and payroll processing by 70-80%. This means you do not need to allocate full-time resources to manage these activities across your business. Here is a list of what the benefits are: Creates a paperless environment – saving you thousands on paper and stationary, all activities will be completed via the platform, such as timesheets, rosters, employment contracts, ever-occurring letters including salary increases, promotions, job transfers, warnings and terminations and any other events that may arise. Improves and makes less confusing compliance - reducing the risks of underpaying or overpaying staff, fines from Fair Work Ombudsman for non-compliance and legal fees to defend an employee claim. Boosts efficiency and productivity – Everything is securely kept in the cloud. This means there’s no such thing as lost files, relevant staff can work remotely, it’s easier to work with external consultants, your employees can check their details on the go and new starters can onboard and commence induction activities before they walk in on their first day. Goodbye filing cabinets. Engaging with your people – through employee self-service, staff can maintain their own personal details, have access to company policies and procedures and other important information. They will also have access to Learning online, receive Company announcements, complete performance reviews online and much more. EI Payroll and Employment Hero was built here in Australia and empower SMEs by providing automated solutions for employee management and engagement, payroll and employee benefits. Check out Employment Hero at Performance Management System In my experience as a HR professional working across the SME industry, the number one pain point is employee performance. Often there is either no review process and employees simply miss out on getting any feedback and development or the process in place is all-encompassing, inconsistent and often has little impact in improving performance. Having a high performing team and maximising the return on your investment is going to be key to future proofing your business. Ultimately your business is only as good as the people in it. A performance management system does not need to be complex, time consuming and about filling out paperwork – these do not work! What a performance management system needs to achieve is a culture of learning and development through constructive feedback, encouragement and mentoring, empowering people to take responsibility to achieve great things and recognising and fostering talent. It also needs to cater for those who are not doing a good job and work with them to improve or exit the business. Workforce Restructures Many SME’s grow organically and as a result may reach stages of growth where the organisational structure becomes ineffective. Often the resources you employee in the early days of growth are not the resources you need later. You may experience the constant exiting of staff who no longer suit the needs of the business, replacing them with new resources to accommodate the needs of the business for that moment in time. This can be a very costly and stressful way to grow your business. Now is the perfect time to set up an organisational structure to accommodate your future growth. Ideally you want to build a structure of your organisation to ensure you govern the workflow of your company making it easier to add new positions and provide flexibility and ready means for growth. TIP Create an organisational structure where team members are the “doers” and the leaders are the “enablers”. The leader of a team does not necessarily need to be the expert in the product or service the team members are delivering. Too often I see a high performing “doer” promoted to a leader, only to struggle in the leadership role. A team leader or manager should be an expert in leadership where they can effectively resource against demand and budget, they have strong commercial acumen to be able to understand the bigger picture, they can mentor and develop people, they have an ability to empower people to take ownership and responsibility and do not micromanage staff, they are very effective communicators and not afraid to deal with issues and challenges as they occur. Have HR policies that protect your business Often HR policies and procedures are either out of date or absent in the workplace making it difficult to consistently embrace any action or decision when an employee event or issue arises. Having well written, up-to-date policies creates an environment of assure uniformity of action throughout the business. They provide managers a guideline by which they can effectively manage employees. They also provide tools to communicate the standards and responsibilities of your employee’s and what they can come to expect of your business. Over the last few years there have been many changes across the Industrial Relations landscape, and these changes should be reflected in your HR policies and procedures to ensure compliance is adhered to. Updating Employment Contracts Every single employee in your business requires an employment contract and if they are not carefully drafted, you run the risk of ambiguity and failure to meet legal requirements. If any issues do arise, an ambiguous contract could prove very costly down the track. Recently, the Fair Work Commission handed down a decision for annualised wages as part of its four-yearly review of modern awards The decision requires employers to comply with certain new modern award annualised wage clauses from 1 March 2020. This means employers must ensure that an appropriate set-off clause is included in the employment contracts for those employees, which covers and specifies all award entitlements for the employees for all hours worked. Now might be a good time to review and re-issue new employment contracts that detail new legislative changes. How can we assist Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software. We can assist you to build a better business ready to thrive post COVID 19. Contact me directly at
Today the Morrison government announced around 6 million workers will receive a fortnightly payment of $1,500 (before tax) through their employer. This is to assist businesses to retain their employees and help rebuild business once the Covid 19 crisis is over. For more information click this link
Changes to the Clerks Award flexibility during the coronavirus outbreak
The Fair Work Commission has inserted a temporary Schedule l effective from an employees first full pay cycle on or after 28th March 2020 until 30 June 2020. The changes affected are: 1. employees’ classifications and duties 2. minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees 3. span of hours changes while working at home 4. full-time and part-time employees' hours of work 5. directions to take annual leave. 1. Employee Classifications and Duties Employers can direct their employees to do any tasks that they have the skill, competency, qualifications and licences for, even if those tasks aren’t in their usual classification or normal work. If an employee is directed to work above their usual classification for more than one day, the employer needs to pay them at the higher rate. Employees who do tasks below their usual classification are still paid at their usual pay rate. 2. Minimum engagement/pay for part-time and casual employees Part-time employees who have agreed to work from home can have their minimum engagement reduced to 2 hours per shift (rather than 3 hours) and casual employees who have agreed to work from home must be paid for a minimum of 2 hours (rather than 3 hours). 3. Span of hours while working from home Where an employee is working from home the span of hours has changed to: 6am and 11pm, Monday to Friday 7am and 12.30pm, Saturday. 4. Hours of work for full-time and part-time employees Employers can temporarily reduce their permanent employee’s hours of work to not less than 75% of their full-time ordinary hours or agreed part-time hours immediately prior to the reduction. There needs to be a least 75% of staff (in the business or section of the business affected) to vote yes to a reduction in hours of work. The employer needs to follow these steps for the vote to be valid: If any employee is a known member of a union, let the union know about the vote. Provide the employees with the contact details for the Australian Services Union (ASU), f they wish to contact the ASU for advice. Email about the vote and provide the employees' private email addresses. The Commission will email the employees the ASU COVID-19 Information Sheet. Hold a vote at least 24 hours after they have followed steps 1-3. Any employee who has had their hours reduced can ask their employer for permission to: find more work with another employer access training, professional development and study leave through their employer. An employer can’t unreasonably refuse an employee’s request for find other work. An employer must also consider all reasonable requests for training, professional development or study leave. Employees working reduced hours under Schedule I will continue to accumulate their paid leave and termination of employment entitlements based on their ordinary hours of work before the reduced the hours started. An employer and employee can also individually agree in writing to reduce the employee's hours. 5. Direction to take Annual Leave Employers can direct an employee to take annual leave, giving 1 weeks’ notice (a shorter notice is allowed where both parties agree). Where a business is closing down for a period due to coronavirus and an employee does not have enough paid leave entitlements, all or part of the leave can be taken as unpaid leave. However, any period of unpaid leave is to count as service for entitlements under the Clerks Award and National Employment Standards. If the business isn't closing, the employer can only direct an employee to take annual leave if the: employee still has at least 2 weeks of leave left after the direction employer considers the employee's personal situation. For help in re-organising your work force to cope with the coronavirus affects on your business contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information can be found
When you are looking at terminating an employee by way of redundancy there are several factors you need to consider before taking action. Below is a quick overview, however, it is recommended to seek advice. Redundancy pay may vary depending on your Registered Agreement, applicable Modern Award and number and type of employees you have. When redundancy can be used as a way to terminate someone’s employment Ending someone’s employment by way of redundancy can be done when an employee's position is no longer required by an employer due to restructuring or operational changes in the employer's enterprise which renders their position unnecessary. Essentially the work or role is no longer required to be performed by any employee. Redundancy can also occur when an employer becomes insolvent or bankrupt. Restructuring and operational changes may occur when new technologies are introduced (ie a job is completed through the technology rather than a person), the business closes, has a decline in sales or production, the business relocates interstate or overseas or there is a restructure or reorganisation because a merger or takeover happens. Consulting with employees who may be affected All awards and registered agreements have a consultation process for when there are major changes to the workplace, such as redundancies. This consultation process should occur as soon as possible after the decision has been made to make changes. The consultation process may look like this: Written communication to affected staff regarding changes in the business, the reason for the major changes and the impact the changes may have on them. Invite those affected to attend a discussion around the changes and invite them to ask questions and suggest ideas about the changes. Consider any ideas and changes. See what other roles are an available across the business. Perhaps those affected could be offered a different position that matches their experience and qualifications? Should no other options be available, provide notice regarding the redundancy in writing and what the time frame will be. Include what they will be entitled to. Who are entitled to redundancy pay and how much? Most full time and part time employees who work for an organisation with 15 or more staff are entitled to redundancy pay based on years of continuous service. Employees who do not get redundancy pay are: employees whose period of continuous service with the employer is less than 12 months employees employed for a stated period of time, an identified task or project, a particular season employees terminated because of serious misconduct casual employees trainees engaged only for the length of the training agreement apprentices employees who work for a small business with less than 15 employees (some exceptions) Redundancy pay is on top of any notice periods and accrued entitlements such as annual leave and LSL. Employee's period of continuous service with the employer on termination Redundancy pay period At least 1 year but less than 2 years 4 weeks At least 2 years but less than 3 years 6 weeks At least 3 years but less than 4 years 7 weeks At least 4 years but less than 5 years 8 weeks At least 5 years but less than 6 years 10 weeks At least 6 years but less than 7 years 11 weeks At least 7 years but less than 8 years 13 weeks At least 8 years but less than 9 years 14 weeks At least 9 years but less than 10 years 16 weeks At least 10 years 12 weeks Before calculating redundancy pay make sure you check the applicable Registered Agreement and Award as redundancy pay may vary. For example, under the Building and Construction General On-site Award, the minimum redundancy pay is different. Also note where an organisations is considering making redundant 15 or more employees, you must give written notification to the Department of Human Services. Essential HR in partnership with Employment Innovations are leading providers of employment services designed to increase productivity and ensure compliance. Its services and solutions include all the tools that every Australian small to medium-sized employer needs – including workplace advice, legal services, outsourcing payroll, payroll software, human resource management & HR software.