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The Fair Work Commission's Response To COVID-19 & JobKeeper

Recently, the President of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) released a statement regarding the FWC’s JobKeeper response to COVID-19. This article aims to highlight the key changes that might impact your workplace.

JobKeeper Enabling Directions

The Fair Work Act was temporarily amended to assist with the introduction of the JobKeeper payment scheme. There are three types of enabling directions introduced to workplaces to achieve this, they are:

  • Employers’ giving employees temporary or partial stand down directions

  • Employers’ temporarily altering the employee’s usual duties and locations of work in certain circumstances

  • Allowing employees to alter their days and times of work and use annual leave in certain circumstances.

The new provisions allow employees who have been stood down to engage in reasonable secondary employment, training or professional development. Overall, as an employer you now have greater flexibility to stand down an employee or alter their nature of work in certain circumstances. This is a temporary modification of the employment terms which allow the employer to reduce an employee’s hours of work, alter their duties and location of work. However, in any circumstance these directions must be reasonable.

The FWC has also varied modern awards and enterprise agreements in an attempt to provide flexibility for employers and employees to make changes in their respective workplaces. As an employer or an employee, you should keep yourself updated on these changes made to your respective award or enterprise agreement.

Additionally, if you believe you are eligible for JobKeeper payment you can apply for the scheme through the Business Portal on your MyGov account. However, we advise first reading through the processes listed on the ATO website.

New Approaches

The FWC’s New Approaches program has become increasingly useful in these turbulent times of COVID-19. The FWC works alongside employers and unions in an attempt to establish and build cooperative and productive workplaces. This is achieved through the FWC providing services of training and assistance in collaborative workplace changes.

The program has proven to be successful and this was demonstrated in the FWC’s work in the disability services sector with the National Disability Services, the Australian Services Union, the Health Services Union, and the United Workers Union. These parties were able to discuss the challenges of COVID-19 and formalise solutions to effectively support the disability support workers during these turbulent circumstances.

For more information on the New Approaches program visit the FWC website.

Other Information

The FWC has closed public counters but continues to operate between its regular hours. However, all hearings and conferences for the foreseeable future are held by phone or video conference. If you need to lodge an application you can use the FWC’s online lodgment service, or even email or fax.

If you have any questions or issues regarding this article or another employment law related matter, please contact Voice Lawyers on:

(02) 9261 1954 or

Alternatively, you can book an appointment with a lawyer here:

If you are interested in reading about Stand Downs & Forced Leave in the midst of COVID-19, check out our article here.

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