When it comes to your rights as an employee, most of us know very little and just kinda hope that our bosses are nice people who have our best interests at heart. But let’s be real here, that’s not always the case, so it pays to know your rights.
And as the JobKeeper payments start flowing for thousands of Aussies across the country, it can be really confusing to know 1. what you’re entitled to, and 2. what the fuck to do if your boss is being shady about it.
This isn’t an exhaustive list of everything your boss can and can’t do, but we’ll be sure to update it as more information is released regarding the JobKeeper payment and the loopholes employers are trying to find.
Disclaimer: The JobKeeper payment is new and information is changing on a daily basis. For the most up-to-date information regarding the JobKeeper payment, please visit the ATO website.
Am I Eligible For JobKeeper?
Let’s get the basics sorted first. If you’re an Australian resident (for tax purposes) employed by an eligible employer as of March 1 (even if you were stood down) as a permanent full time, part-time, or a long-term casual employee over the age of 16, you should be eligible for the JobKeeper payment.
You can only claim the payment from one employer, so you’ll have to communicate this to your bosses if you’ve got multiple jobs.
What Am I Entitled To?
According to the ABC, all employees who are eligible for the JobKeeper payment should be seeing the full $1,500 per fortnight as a minimum, even if their hours have been reduced.
Basically, if you’re seeing less than $1,500 per fortnight (before tax) on the JobKeeper payment, something is wrong, even if you weren’t making that much money before.
Similarly, if you were earning more than $1,500 per fortnight, your employee must top up the payment to meet your full wage.
“They will also know that things aren’t right if their pay is ordinarily more than $1,500 per fortnight and they’re still working their same hours, then they need to be topped up the remaining amount of their wage,” Bytheway continued.
To put it simply, if your employer is participating in the scheme and you are eligible, they must pay you.
What Can My Employer Do?
- Reduce your hours as a casual/part time employee.
“That will not change the hourly rate that would be worked by – that would be owed to a worker – under all the relevant EAs and awards, but it could alter someone’s hours down,” Attorney-General Christian Porter said, according to Yahoo Finance.
According to Porter, you can only have your hours altered if there’s actually less work to be done as a result of the pandemic (e.g if you’re a bartender/waitress and your usual job is borderline non-existent right now).
- Ask you to perform different duties, provided they are reasonable, necessary and within your skillset/qualification level.
- This can only be on a temporary basis and you must be paid accordingly if these duties are generally paid a higher wage.
- Ask you to undertake relevant online training during the shutdown during ordinary working hours.
- Employers can use this time to train staff using online courses to make use of the time during lockdown.
What Can’t My Employer Do?
- Lower your wage or force you to work an increased amount of hours to receive the payment.
- Your boss can’t lower your hourly wage to meet the JobKeeper payment. If you’re part-time or casual, they can reduce your hours to your minimum contracted hours, but they can’t change your hourly rate or make you work more than your contracted hours to “earn” the payment.
- Withhold part of the payment or charge an administration fee.
- If you’re eligible for JobKeeper, you should see the entire amount (minus tax/HECS contributions). Your employer can’t slap on a $100 “admin” fee for processing the claim.
- Pay some eligible employees but not others.
- According to Treasurer Josh Frydenberg, it’s a “one in, all in” program and “the employer cannot select which eligible employees will participate in the scheme”.
- Force you to sign up.
- The JobKeeper scheme is optional, so you need to agree to being nominated.
What If My Employer Isn’t Doing The Right Thing?
If your payments seem incorrect, you should talk to your boss as a first point of contact. The JobKeeper payment is new, so there’s a chance your boss isn’t trying to rip you off and is just confused.
You can also contact JobWatch, which has a free hotline (1800 331 617) and FAQ page to help with any JobKeeper-related queries you may have.
If your dispute still isn’t solved, you can contact Fair Work for any JobKeeper-related issues you can’t resolve with your employer.
According to the Fair Work Act, the Fair Work Commission can deal with JobKeeper disputes by holding mediation and conciliation sessions, make recommendations and if necessary, issue orders.
To lodge a dispute with the Fair Work Commission regarding the JobKeeper payment, you can fill out this form and email it to COVID19Applications@fwc.gov.au
You can find out more information on the Fair Work Commission’s website here.Image: Getty Images