“Industry welcomes the introduction into Parliament today of a Bill to extend the operation of the JobKeeper scheme and the short-term flexibility measures in the Fair Work Act, until late-March. The JobKeeper scheme is playing a vital role in saving thousands of businesses and millions of jobs. The short-term provisions in the Fair Work Act are playing an important complementary role in allowing businesses to adjust the working hours, work locations and work duties of their employees, in order to save as many jobs as possible,” Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association, Ai Group, said today.
“Importantly, the Bill extends the JobKeeper provisions in the Fair Work Act, both for businesses that qualify for JobKeeper 2.0 and for recovering businesses that qualified for the original scheme but do not qualify for JobKeeper 2.0. The 10% reduction in turnover requirement that applies to the second category of employers strikes an appropriate balance.
“If a business has not yet fully recovered, it is important that its access to the short-term provisions in the Fair Work Act is not cut-off at the end of September as this could impede its recovery and its ability to preserve jobs.
“The Ai Group report Business experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic – March to July 2020 highlights the important role that the JobKeeper scheme is playing in the retention of jobs. ‘Reduced staff numbers’ was a key response by businesses in April (20% of businesses reporting to Ai Group), falling to 13% in May and July as the JobKeeper program has helped to support the workforce (see p.9 of the report). In July, 36% of business reported of their need to reduce employee working hours (see p.10) – no doubt to save jobs – which highlights the importance of the short-term provisions in the Fair Work Act.
“The Bill deserves the strong support of all political parties. It is important that the Bill is passed as soon as possible to deliver much needed certainty to employers and employees,” Mr Willox said.