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Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Attorney-General’s Department: Find out how our services are being delivered and how you can access them. For the latest COVID-19 news, updates and advice from the Australian Government, visit Australia.gov.au

About work

JobKeeper Wage Subsidy Scheme

The Government has announced a $130 billion JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to help keep more Australians connected to the workforce and to help businesses restart quickly when the crisis is over. Around 6 million workers will receive a fortnightly payment of $1,500 (before tax) through their employer.

Learn more about the payment and read fact sheets (including FAQs) with information for:

Fair Work Act changes

The Australian Government has passed temporary changes to the Fair Work Act to assist with the implementation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme.

Particularly, the new changes enable:

  • employers to temporarily stand down employees by reducing their ordinary hours and days of work (including to nil hours) in certain circumstances
  • employers to alter employees' usual duties and locations of work in certain circumstances
  • employers and employees to agree on altering an employee's days and times of work and use of annual leave in certain circumstances.

More information on the provisions are available on the Fair Work Ombudsman.

Protections and Misuse

The Fair Work Commission will be able to deal with disputes about the new provisions.

There are a number of protections to prevent misuse, including:

  • the employer must pay an employee at a minimum the $1,500 JobKeeper payment, if an employee earns more than $1,500, even on reduced hours, the employer must top up the greater amount
  • the directions cannot reduce an employee's hourly rate of pay
  • an employee does not have to comply with a direction if it is unreasonable in all the circumstances
  • a direction about duties or location of work can only be issued where the employer reasonably believes that it is necessary to maintain the employee's employment
  • a direction will only apply if the employer consults with the employee and provides 3 days written notice (unless a shorter time period is agreed)
  • a body corporate that issues an unauthorised direction under the changes may face penalties of up to $630,000.

The Australian Government passed these amendments on 8 April 2020. We will continue to update our website when more information is available.

Industrial relations – information for employees

For particular questions about workplace entitlements during the COVID-19 pandemic, or for further information, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's dedicated coronavirus website.

Employers and employees are encouraged to explore options that enable an employee to take any accrued leave entitlements during the coronavirus outbreak.

For information on leave entitlements, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Employers may be able to stand their employees down without pay during the coronavirus outbreak for a number of different reasons.

For information on stand downs, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

If other options have been exhausted, or if they aren't feasible, some employers may need to make their employees' positions redundant in response to a business downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

For information on termination and COVID-19, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

When an employer is bankrupt, or goes into liquidation or insolvency, employees may be able to get help through the Fair Entitlements Guarantee.

To find out more and lodge a claim, visit the Fair Entitlements Guarantee website.

There are a range of flexible working arrangements that employers and employees can explore together that may suit their individual needs and circumstances.

For information on flexible working arrangements, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Employees can work from home by agreement with their employer.

Employers who want to direct an employee to work from home should review their obligations under any applicable enterprise agreement, award, employment contract or workplace policy. Employers should also consider the nature of the work involved and the suitability of the employee's home. Work health and safety laws still apply even when an employee is working from home.

For more information on working from home, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website and the Safe Work Australia website.

Workers' compensation schemes provide compensation for work-related injuries and diseases. Whether a claim for workers' compensation for contracting COVID-19 is accepted will be a matter for the relevant workers' compensation authority, applying their jurisdiction's workers' compensation laws. Workers' compensation authorities will consider each claim on its merits, with regard to the individual circumstances and evidence.

For further information, visit the Safe Work Australia website.

For information on how to make an application to the Fair Work Commission, and updates on Fair Work Commission services, visit their website.

Industrial relations – information for employers

For particular questions about workplace entitlements during the COVID-19 pandemic, or for further information, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman's dedicated coronavirus website.

Businesses and people affected by the coronavirus outbreak may be eligible for government financial support.

For information about financial assistance, eligibility and timing for new government support for Australian businesses, visit business.gov.au.

If your worker is confirmed to have COVID-19 you need to follow the health advice from the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 or your state or territory helpline. 

What needs to be done to meet your work health and safety duty will depend on your circumstances. You should contact your state or territory WHS regulator for specific advice on your situation.

However, if you know a worker is confirmed to have COVID-19, you must make sure the worker does not return to work while they are infectious.

For more information, visit the Safe Work Australia website.

If your business is still able to trade, you must still implement appropriate controls to manage the risk of exposure to COVID-19.

For employees working from home, this may change, increase or create work health or safety risks. Employers will still need to do what they reasonably can to manage the risks to a worker who works from home.

For more information on work health and safety, visit the Safe Work Australia website.

Safe Work Australia has information about when an employer can direct employees to stay away from their usual workplace under the model work health and safety laws.

For more information, visit the Safe Work Australia website.

Employers may be able to stand their employees down without pay during the coronavirus outbreak for a number of different reasons.

For information on stand downs, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

If other options have been exhausted, or if they aren't feasible, some employers may need to make their employees' positions redundant in response to a business downturn caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

For information on termination and COVID-19, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

You may be able to change an employee's regular roster or hours of work or ask them to work extra shifts or longer hours subject to certain requirements being met. For more information on your obligations when seeking to vary the hours of employees, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Workers' compensation schemes provide compensation for work-related injuries and diseases. Whether a claim for workers' compensation for contracting COVID-19 is accepted will be a matter for the relevant workers' compensation authority, applying their jurisdiction's workers' compensation laws. Workers' compensation authorities will consider each claim on its merits, with regard to the individual circumstances and evidence.

For more information, visit the Safe Work Australia website.

In some circumstances, you can require employees to take paid annual leave. Whether you can direct an employee to take annual leave in circumstances relating to coronavirus usually depends on what the relevant award or enterprise agreement says.

For more information on annual leave entitlements, visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

For information on how to make an application to the Fair Work Commission, and updates on Fair Work Commission services, visit their website.

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