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Be Prepared for the End of JobKeeper

Published March 23, 2021 -
Employer putting on a smile but deepdown she's unhappy about JobKeeper ending

All good things must end. And after Sunday 28 March, the JobKeeper amendments to the Fair Work Act 2009 (the Act) providing businesses with enabling directions to help keep their businesses afloat will expire.

There may be further amendments to the Act that support businesses like JobKeeper enabling directions further down the line but for the moment, it looks like we’ll be returning to pre-COVID business arrangements.

While the COVID-19 vaccination rollout has begun, it’s too early to say – or even think – of the COVID pandemic as being over.

So it looks like businesses must adjust to the end of the JobKeeper enabling directions. While Employsure can’t assist you with the wages or financial side of JobKeeper – you need to speak to a registered tax agent if you’d like to know more about that – we are here to help you adjust to end of the JobKeeper amendments to the Fair Work Act.

What are JobKeeper Enabling Directions?

JobKeeper Enabling Directions gave employers more flexibility in managing their staff during COVID. Broadly speaking, employers receiving JobKeeper payments for eligible employees can give JobKeeper Enabling Directions to vary certain terms of the employee’s employment as long as the direction meets certain criteria.

Under JobKeeper, an eligible employer could do any or a combination of the following if certain conditions were met:

  • vary an employee’s duties
  • reduce an employee’s hours of work, including to zero in some cases
  • change an employee’s location of work
  • change the days or times when an employee is to perform work

My Staff are Under JobKeeper Enabling Directions. What Do I Have to Do?

With JobKeeper ending, under JobKeeper Enabling Directions must reinstate the normal terms of an employee’s employment. With BrightHR, you can easily access your prior contracts and employee agreements to review and implement through the HR Document Storage feature.

Employsure is here to provide assistance to all small business owners and employers in managing this transition from JobKeeper Enabling Directions back to the employees’ previous employment conditions and can help you with options to more easily bring into effect these changes.

If an Employee’s Hours Have Been Reduced

Once JobKeeper enabling directions cease to apply, the employee should revert to the hours they worked before any enabling direction was given. This applies to employees who have been working from a couple of hours a week less than normal, and to employees who had their hours reduced to zero.

If you wish to change the employee’s hours permanently, e.g. from full-time to part-time, you must discuss and negotiate this with the employee as you normally would do before providing them with a written variation to their contract if they agree. You can use BrightHR to help you manage any changes to hours, pay schedule and contracts with the payroll navigator feature.

If an Employee’s Location of Work Has Been Changed

You must return an employee to their original workplace, where possible.

What if I Have a Multi-Site (or Franchise) Business?

If this is the case, you may be able to agree another working location with the employee, or perhaps you may reasonably be able to direct your employee to keep working at their current workplace depending on the applicable award, registered agreement or the employee’s employment contract.

Blip! by BrightHR gives you real-time updates on what workplace your employees are working from, and how long they were there with its handy clock-on/clock-off feature.

What if the Normal Working Location is Closed?

If the normal working location has closed, you can offer the employee the opportunity to keep working at their current location if possible. Alternatively, you may need to make some positions redundant. As part of the consultation process you can offer employees the option to permanently change their working location as part of any redeployment.

Do I Have to Return My Employees from Home to a Physical Workplace?

If you used JobKeeper Enabling Directions to direct your employees to work from home, you may be able to request them to continue working from home if they agree and the employee’s award agreement or employment contract allow for it. However, this request could possibly intersect with your workplace health and safety obligations. As such, it may take a while to explain your options. Get in touch with us if you want to find out more.

If an Employee’s Days or Times Were Changed

The employee will go back to working their normal days or times that applied before the enabling direction was given.

Download Free JobKeeper Letter Templates Now

These free letter templates can help you transition your business away from JobKeeper Enabling Directions.

Need to Cut Back on Wages? Redundancies Aren’t Your Only Option

Like many business owners, the end of JobKeeper enabling directions may mean you will have to cutback in your business. This may mean you have to make positions redundant, because the operational requirements of the business have changed, and you can’t revert to the conditions before the enabling directions.

Redundancy can be a difficult process to understand and implement, and it has the potential to be quite costly; the redundancy navigator feature available through BrightHR can help you plan, track and enact redundancies to help you more easily meet your obligations as an employer.

Employsure urges any small business owner or employer to get in touch with us if you’re considering redundancies.

Further, redundancies aren’t your only option. We have produced a suite of content for employers, outlining their alternatives to redundancies.

Better Understand Your Alternatives to Redundancy

Our guide can help you understand the complexity of making redundancies.

BrightHR Can Help You Too

BrightHR has a great back to work navigator tool that gives you one place to manage all your back to work processes—so you can get your business back on its feet again in no time.

BrightHR helping you manage your people and business

Contact us to find out how BrightHR people management software can help you manage and store your essential employee records and documents.

About Employsure

Employsure is one of Australia’s largest workplace relations advisers to small- and medium-businesses, with over 25,000 clients. We take the complexity out of workplace legislation to help small business employers protect their business and their people.

Note about JobKeeper: Employsure are workplace relations and work health and safety experts. We can help you manage the JobKeeper amendments to Fair Work Act only. We cannot provide advice or any assistance on any other aspect of JobKeeper. Speak to a registered tax agent if you’d like to know more.

This blog has been compiled on the basis of general information current at the time of publication. Changes in circumstances after publication may affect the completeness or accuracy of this information. To the maximum extent permitted by law, we disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions contained in this information or any failure to update or correct this information. It is your responsibility to assess and verify the accuracy, completeness, currency and reliability of the information on this website, and to seek professional advice where necessary. Nothing contained on this website is to be interpreted as a recommendation to use any product, process or formulation or any information on this website. For clarity, Employsure does not recommend any material, products or services of any third parties. 

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