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Important COVID-19 information
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

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Coronavirus (COVID-19) FAQs and useful links

JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme

The government has extended the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme to help keep more Australians connected to the workforce and to help maintain the viability of businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Visit The Treasury website for more about the extension of the JobKeeper scheme and guidance material.

Fair Work Act changes

The Australian Government has also extended the temporary JobKeeper provisions in the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (Fair Work Act) to complement the extension of the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme and keep people employed.

These flexibilities have been extended for employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme and are entitled to a JobKeeper payment on or after 28 September 2020. These are known as ‘qualifying employers’.

The flexibilities have also been extended for employers who previously qualified for and were entitled to a JobKeeper payment prior to 28 September 2020, but are no longer entitled to payments under the JobKeeper scheme after that date, and are experiencing a 10% decline in turnover. These are known as ‘legacy employers’.

The flexibilities are only available in relation to employees for whom the employer receives the JobKeeper payment (or previously received in the case of legacy employers).

The JobKeeper provisions in the Fair Work Act enable:

  • employers to temporarily stand down employees by reducing their ordinary hours and days of work (including to nil hours for qualifying employers) in certain circumstances
  • employers to alter employees' usual duties and locations of work in certain circumstances
  • employers to request that employees agree to altering an employee's days and times of work (an employee can refuse a request if it is unreasonable).

The temporary JobKeeper provisions in the Fair Work Act relating to requests to take annual leave will still be repealed on 28 September 2020. After this, annual leave arrangements will revert to the arrangements that existed before these provisions were introduced.

The remaining temporary JobKeeper provisions in the Fair Work Act will now be repealed on 28 March 2021.

Find out more about these provisions on the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

Independent review into temporary JobKeeper provisions in the Fair Work Act

The Nous Group conducted an independent review of the operation of the temporary JobKeeper provisions in the Fair Work Act as required by the Coronavirus Economic Response Package Omnibus (Measures No. 2) Act 2020.

The final report of the independent review was tabled in Parliament on 20 October 2020.

Download a copy of the Independent review of the temporary JobKeeper provisions of the Fair Work Act.

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.

The Fair Work Commission has temporarily varied 99 awards to provide employees with 2 weeks of unpaid pandemic leave and the ability to take twice as much annual leave at half their normal pay, if their employer agreed.

The Commission has now extended these provisions in many awards. There are different end dates for the extended unpaid pandemic leave and annual leave provisions in each award.

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 are not 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. 

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 are not 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.

From 28 September 2020, employers will no longer be able to request that employees agree to take annual leave under the temporary flexibilities in the Fair Work Act. Annual leave arrangements will revert to the arrangements that existed before these provisions were introduced.

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.