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End of JobKeeper Q&As

The following questions & answers are for eligible employees. This information is accurate as at 1 October 2021. Updates will be provided if further information becomes available.

Disclaimer

This Q&A contains information of a general nature only and is not a substitute for professional legal advice. You should obtain legal advice from a lawyer or your union about your particular situation before acting on any of the following information.

This Q&A is designed for Victorian and national system employees in Tasmania and Queensland only. If you are not a Victorian employee or a Queensland or Tasmanian national system employee, you should obtain specialist legal advice about your case as soon as possible.

Please note applicable time limits for certain claims, e.g. 21 days to lodge an Unfair Dismissal claim.

For more information on what is most appropriate in your situation, contact JobWatch’s Telephone Information Service on 1800 331 617 (Regional VIC, QLD, TAS) or 03 9662 1933 (Melbourne Metro).

What does the end of JobKeeper mean for me?

The JobKeeper Payment program ended on 28 March 2021.

This means that JobKeeper enabling directions ended on 29 March 2021. From this date, you are entitled to return to your normal terms of employment.

If you are a full-time or part-time employee, you have an automatic right to return to the hours you were working prior to when any JobKeeper enabling directions were given.

Your employer cannot require you to continue to work reduced hours after 29 March 2021 without your consent.

If you are a casual employee, you have no guaranteed hours of work and accordingly your employer may vary your work hours as needed.

Can my employer direct me to take paid annual leave after JobKeeper ends?

Your employer can only direct you to take annual leave in certain situations. For example, when the business is closed during the Christmas and New Year period or if you have accumulated excess annual leave. In these situations, your employer can only direct you to take annual leave in accordance with the modern award or enterprise agreement that covers you.

My employer says that they need to change conditions in my contract (hours/days of work, rate of pay, duties, location) after JobKeeper ends. What are my options?

Any proposed change or variation to your contract needs to be legally consented to by both parties. Just because an employer wants to change the contract does not mean you have to accept the change – you can say no.

Unilateral changes to your employment contract may be considered fundamental and you may disagree with them – e.g. they change your employment status from permanent to casual, they change your classification or they significantly reduce your work hours.

If you disagree with a proposed change, it is a good idea to confirm this in writing to your employer, keeping copies of these letters or emails for your own records. You also need to understand that if you don’t accept the change, it may mean that your employment will be terminated because of redundancy. You should read our Redundancy factsheet if you are affected by a redundancy.

My employer says that I need to keep performing alternative duties, or duties at a different location, that are not within my current contract of employment after JobKeeper ends. What are my options?

With the end of JobKeeper, any changes to your employment contract that were made pursuant to a JobKeeper enabling direction such as duties and location of work will no longer apply from 29 March 2021. Accordingly, if you worked reduced hours under a JobKeeper enabling direction while you have received JobKeeper payments, you should now return to your previous contracted work arrangements unless:

  • You agree to change your employment contract with your employer; or
  • Your employment is terminated by your employer.

However, if you are covered by a modern award or an enterprise agreement that continues to allow for some flexibility during Coronavirus (e.g. the Restaurant Industry Award or the General Retail Award) you will need to check which flexibility clauses continue to apply beyond 28 March 2021. You can check which award or enterprise agreement covers you by calling the Fair Work Ombudsman on 13 13 94.

My employer says that they need to make my job redundant / terminate my employment after JobKeeper ends. What are my options?

A genuine redundancy occurs when:

  • your employer no longer requires your job to be done by anyone because of changes in the operational requirements of its business; and
  • your employer has complied with any obligation to consult about redundancy that may be contained in a modern award or enterprise agreement that applies to your employment; or
  • when your employer becomes insolvent or bankrupt.

Your job is made up of many things including for example, your job title, your duties, your pay, your hours and your job location. Consider all these factors together when you ask yourself whether your job has truly ceased to exist. It is the job that becomes redundant, not you.

If your job is made redundant, your employment is not necessarily terminated. Your employer could offer you a different job (known as redeployment) and if you accept this redeployment, your employment will not be terminated.

If, on the other hand, your employment is terminated because of redundancy (sometimes referred to as retrenchment), you should ask yourself have you been given all your correct entitlements, including notice or pay in lieu of notice, wages for all hours worked, any outstanding paid leave and redundancy pay? Read our Redundancy factsheet for more information about your redundancy entitlements.

If you were dismissed and you don’t believe it was a genuine redundancy, read our Unfair Dismissal factsheet and General Protections Dispute – Termination factsheet for more information about making an application to the Fair Work Commission. You must act quickly as you only have 21 days from when the dismissal takes effect to lodge an application, provided you are eligible to do so.

My employer says they need to continue standing me down after JobKeeper ends. What are my options?

Under s524 of the Fair Work Act 2009, an employer may stand down an employee during a period in which the employee cannot usefully be employed in certain circumstances, including because of a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer cannot reasonably be held responsible. An employer does not have to make payments to the employee for the period of the stand down.

In general, an employer cannot stand down an employee under s524 simply because of a deterioration in business conditions.

By contrast, where work has stopped because of an enforceable government direction, such as a lockdown under public health orders, a stand-down under s524 may be applicable.

If your employer tells you that you are to be stood down and you don’t agree that it is because of a stoppage of work for which they cannot reasonably be held responsible, you can make an application to the Fair Work Commission to challenge the validity of the stand-down.

My employer says that all employees need to reapply for available jobs after JobKeeper ends, and that not everyone will be successful. What are my options?

If you do not want to apply for the new positions, then you can let your employer know in writing that you are not resigning. If there are suitable redeployment options available, your employer must offer these to you without requiring you to apply for them. If they make your role redundant and do not offer an opportunity for redeployment you can pursue an Unfair Dismissal claim or a General Protections Dispute – Termination claim with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of the redundancy taking effect.

If you decide to reapply for the job and are unsuccessful, you should still receive a redundancy payment (provided your employer has 15 or more employees) as your original role is no longer available. If you receive a redundancy payment, you can still make an Unfair Dismissal claim or a General Protections Dispute – Termination claim with the Fair Work Commission within 21 days of the termination or redundancy taking effect.

If you decide to reapply for the job and are successful in receiving a job offer, you may not be eligible for redundancy pay as this may mean you have been ‘redeployed’ into acceptable alternative employment.

I was eligible for JobKeeper, and my employer was underpaying me during the JobKeeper period.

If you and your employer were eligible for JobKeeper throughout the scheme, you should have received at least the following payments per fortnight, before tax:

  • From 30 March 2020 to 27 September 2020: $1500 per fortnight (before tax)
  • From 28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021: Tier 1 $1200 per fortnight (before tax) or Tier 2 $750 per fortnight (before tax)
  • From 4 January 2021 to 28 March 2021: Tier 1 $1000 per fortnight (before tax) or Tier 2 $650 per fortnight (before tax)

You should have received more if the wages you earned exceeded the JobKeeper rate.

Minimum superannuation contributions should have been calculated on your pay for ordinary hours worked, whether that is higher or lower than the JobKeeper rate. Superannuation was not payable if you were stood down, or on leave without pay during this period while receiving JobKeeper.

If you have been underpaid your JobKeeper or wages, you can take steps to recover the money that is owed to you. This includes writing a letter of demand, lodging a Request for Assistance with the Fair Work Ombudsman, or pursuing a claim through a small claims process in court. Unpaid superannuation can be claimed the same way if you are entitled to it under an award, enterprise agreement or contract, otherwise, you can report the underpayment to the ATO.

Please note that you have 6 years from the date of the first underpayment to file a claim in an eligible Court.

For more information on what is most appropriate in your situation, contact JobWatch’s Telephone Information Service on 1800 331 617 (Regional VIC, QLD, TAS) or 03 9662 1933 (Melbourne Metro).

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