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COVID 19 and Employment issues – we can help

The Covid-19 pandemic has raised a multitude of questions for both employers and employees about their rights and entitlements.  The Job Keeper subsidy, the biggest single piece of expenditure by a Federal government in our history has provided a safety net for those who are eligible.  In broad terms, businesses with turnovers of less than $1 billion which have experienced a downturn in revenue of 30% or more compared to the same time in 2019, may access the scheme for every employee they maintain in employment.  The subsidy is paid at the rate of $1,500 per fortnight per eligible employee.  The subsidy will be paid to the employer in early May and will be backdated to 1 March 2020.

Stand downs have been another area which has created considerable interest.  S.524 of the Fair Work Act (2009) gives employers wide powers to stand down employees in circumstances which are outside the employer’s control.  It’s hard to imagine a situation that better fits that description than the current public health crisis.  However, it’s important to understand that a stand down does not terminate an employment relationship, instead it’s suspended.

A related topic is that of redundancy.  Many people are having to consider this, when just a month or so ago it was not a concern.  What amounts to a true redundancy and how it should be negotiated and documented are matters requiring some specialist knowledge and skill.

Our firm has been helping its clients and many people who are not its clients in relation to these subjects and more, by informal telephone discussions.  There is quite a bit of confusion in the community at present created by the speed with which policy announcements are being made and then modified.  That’s not to criticise anyone, as the situation has called for action and the usual process of consideration and drafting has had to be dramatically shortened, but it has led to many people feeling unsure or worried.  We will do our best to put your mind at ease with practical assistance, addressing your specific needs.  You are welcome to call us now on 03 8547 1053 or contact us via the form below.

The response to Covid-19 is facilitated and organised by Justin Griffin, our employment law specialist.   He has extensive experience in dealing with organisational restructuring and redundancies, and will be able to give you a detailed understanding of your rights and obligations.

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