On 30 March 2020 the federal government announced the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to support Australian businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic by subsidising the wages of their eligible employees. The legislation enacting this scheme came into effect on 9 April 2020 and will continue until 28 September 2020.
These changes have not only supported employers by providing valuable emergency funding to stay afloat in this turbulent environment, but have also introduced changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (the Act) by providing temporary flexibilities in how they manage their workforce. With the changes that have occurred to the Act, employers who qualify for the scheme can, under certain circumstances, give JobKeeper enabling directions and requests. These temporary changes include:
Whilst a qualified employer may issue these directions in particular circumstances, we strongly recommend seeking professional advice before doing so to ensure the correct procedure is used in administering the JobKeeper enabled direction, as a very specific process is required.
JobKeeper has a one in all in approach, meaning if the employer plans on accessing the scheme, they cannot pick and choose from eligible employees. All eligible employees must be given the opportunity to nominate into the scheme. This includes employees on a retainer plus commission arrangement (Debit-Credit) and employees on commission-only arrangements so long as they meet the eligibility criteria.
For a commission-only employee the payments work similarly to any other employee in that the employer must show that the employee is receiving at least $1,500 per fortnight before tax. The payments of commissions may make up part or all of the $1,500 per fortnight dependent on the reporting style for the organisation. For example; an employee that earns less than $1,500 per fortnight will need to have their wages topped up to $1,500 for that fortnight however, for an employee who has earned more than $1,500 in a fortnight, no additional payment is required. Employers are not advised to deduct JobKeeper payments from the commission of their employees unless there is explicit written agreement between the employer and the employee to do so. In such an event CCIWA recommends seeking advice before making such deductions from the commission of the employee as there are complexities to consider.
Written By Andrew Emerson – Employee Relations Adviser
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