“The Australian Industry Group agrees with the Australian Government’s position that short-term changes to the Fair Work Act are necessary to facilitate the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme. The introduction of JobKeeper has created a range of anomalies related to the Act and these need to be fixed so that there is a maximum benefit for both employers and their employees. Thousands of jobs will be at risk if the JobKeeper legislation does not pass through Parliament on Wednesday,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group, said today.
“Amendments are needed to prevent employers breaching the Fair Work Act in circumstances where an employee is working for the employer and receiving the $1,500 subsidy, but this is less than the employee’s normal wage.
“This issue needs to be addressed urgently and it is simply not practical for the issue to be addressed through variations to all awards and thousands of enterprise agreements.
“It is also reasonable for short-term amendments to be made to the Act to give businesses that are eligible for the JobKeeper scheme the reasonable discretions that they need to retain as many jobs as possible.
“We look forward to discussions around the detail of the legislation as part of the accepted process of consultation on workplace relations legislation, before the legislation is introduced into Parliament.
“Whatever the final shape of the amendments to the Fair Work Act, this will not reduce the importance of the award changes recently agreed upon between Ai Group, ACCI and the ACTU and included in COVID-19 schedules in three awards, or the importance of similar amendments being made to other awards.
“It will also not reduce the credit that the unions deserve for their preparedness to agree to changes to awards that will have a meaningful impact on preserving the viability of businesses and jobs. Regardless of the intent and impact of the proposed legislation, it is important that employer groups and unions continue their cooperation in the interest of all employers and employees,” Mr Willox said.