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The JobMaker Scheme

Whilst handing down the Federal Budget in October 2020, the Federal Government introduced another wage subsidy scheme aimed at addressing the increase in unemployment due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and called the JobMaker scheme.

The purpose of the JobMaker scheme is to support and incentivise employers to create new jobs within their business and employ additional people, with eligible employers to receive the following ‘hiring credits’:

  • $200 a week for each eligible employee hired who is aged 16-29 (up to a maximum credit of $10,400)
  • $100 a week for each eligible employee hired who is aged 30-35 (up to a maximum credit of $5,200)

The hiring credit is payable weekly for a period of 12 months following the date on which the employee was hired, provided they are employed by the employer between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2021.

Amongst other things, the employer must be able to demonstrate:

  • an increase in their total employee headcount from 30 September 2020 (the ‘reference date’)
  • Continue reading…

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The JobKeeper 2.0 Scheme

As part of the Federal Government’s initial response to the Covid-19 pandemic the JobKeeper scheme assisted to keep businesses afloat (and employees employed) through the payment of employee wage subsidies.

As the original JobKeeper scheme ended on 28 September 2020 and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic are continuing, the Federal Government introduced the replacement ‘JobKeeper 2.0’ scheme to apply from 28 September 2020 to 28 March 2021.

As with the original JobKeeper scheme, JobKeeper 2.0 operates by providing eligible employers with fixed fortnightly wage subsidies (JobKeeper payments) that the employer is required to pass on to all eligible employees.

However, JobKeeper 2.0 provides two different rates of JobKeeper payments which reduce part-way through the life of the scheme as follows:

28 September 2020 to 3 January 2021 (Quarter 1):

$1,200 per fortnight for:

  • eligible employees who worked 20 hours or more a week on average in the four week pay periods before either 1 March 2020 or 1 July 2020
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Miscellaneous Award 2020 – Extended Application

In mid 2020 the Fair Work Commission made a variation to the coverage provisions of the Miscellaneous Award 2020 (Award) which dramatically increased the potential application and scope of the Award to cover employees who would otherwise be ‘award-free’.

The Award has historically acted as a ‘catch-all’ to cover employees who were traditionally award-covered but who were not covered by any of the other modern awards.

Prior to 1 July 2020, the coverage provisions in the Award (including the previous 2010 version of the Award) included the following exclusions:

4.2 The award does not cover those classes of employees who, because of the nature or seniority of their role, have not traditionally been covered by awards including managerial employees and professional employees such as accountants and finance, marketing, legal, human resources, public relations and information technology specialists.

4.3 The award does not cover employees:

  1. in an industry covered by a modern award who are not within a classification in that modern award; or
  2. Continue reading…

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Proposed Amendments to the Fair Work Act

In December 2020 the Federal Government proposed the most significant set of changes to the national workplace system since the passage of the Fair Work Act in 2009.

The Fair Work Amendment (Supporting Australia’s Jobs and Economic Recovery) Bill 2020 represents the outcome of deliberations by five working groups convened by the Minister for Industrial Relations and featuring representatives from employer groups and trade unions.

The Federal Government has stated that the purposes of the Bill include assisting businesses to recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing more clarity and certainty to both employers and employees about their rights and responsibilities, increasing employee/employer flexibility, and streamlining and simplifying the current industrial relations system.

The more significant changes proposed by the Bill include:

  • providing a statutory definition of a ‘casual employee’ and introducing ‘casual conversion’ provisions for all national system casual employees (including Award-free employees)
  • instituting ‘double-dipping’ protections that allow employers to set-off casual loading payments against other amounts that may be subsequently claimed by an employee (such as in the Rossato case mentioned in our other article)
  • Continue reading…

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Casuals – High Court to hear ‘Workpac’ Appeal

In late 2020, WorkPac was granted special leave by the High Court to appeal the Federal Court’s decision in Workpac Pty Ltd v Rossato [2020], meaning that the High Court may finally provide authoritative guidance on what properly constitutes ‘casual’ employment.

By way of background, Mr Rossato was engaged by Workpac on a casual basis, his employment agreement specified that he was a casual employee, and he was paid a casual loading throughout his employment, however, after that employment ended he alleged he was in reality a permanent employee and therefore entitled to various NES benefits such as notice of termination and paid annual leave.

The Full Court of the Federal Court of Australia found that:

  • Workpac had engaged Mr Rossato on a ‘regular, systematic and predictable basis’, and demonstrated a ‘firm advance commitment’ to provide Mr Rossato with ongoing work throughout his employment
  • notwithstanding the fact that his employment agreement characterised him as a casual employee and he had received wages inclusive of casual loading, Mr Rossato was in fact a permanent employee and therefore eligible to recover unpaid NES entitlements from Workpac such as notice and annual leave
  • Continue reading…

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New! Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

New! Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List

A new Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) was announced on 2  September 2020.

Occupations

This list aims to support Australia’s economic recovery after COVID-19 based on advice from the National Skills Commission and consultation with relevant Commonwealth agencies, and comprises:

  • 111111: Chief Executive or Managing Director
  • 133111: Construction Project Manager
  • 233512: Mechanical Engineer
  • 253111: General Practitioner
  • 253112: Resident Medical Officer
  • 253411: Psychiatrist
  • 253999: Medical Practitioner nec
  • 254111: Midwife
  • 254412: Registered Nurse (Aged Care)
  • 254415: Registered Nurse (Critical Care and Emergency)
  • 254418: Registered Nurse (Medical)
  • 254422: Registered Nurse (Mental Health)
  • 254423: Registered Nurse (Perioperative)
  • 254499: Registered Nurses nec
  • 261312: Developer Programmer
  • 261313: Software Engineer
  • 312911: Maintenance Planner

The PMSOL will be reviewed and updated regularly depending upon its impact and changes in the economy.

Exemptions and Priority Cases

Offshore visa holders who have been sponsored by an Australian business in a PMSOL occupation can request an exemption from Australia’s travel restrictions but will be subject to a strict 14 day quarantine period on arrival at their own expense.
Continue reading…

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Tougher Labour Market Testing and Nomination requirements due to COVID

New! Tougher Labour Market Testing and Nomination requirements due to COVID

The Australian Government has recently taken steps to protect job opportunities for Australians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and fill gaps in critical sectors.

New Rules

As a result, current labour market testing requirements(LMT) have been enhanced to ensure that Australian workers are prioritised for job opportunities in Australia.

Specifically, a new legislative instrument has been introduced and requires any future nominated positions to be advertised on the Government’s Jobactive website.

This measure is in addition to the requirement for at least two advertisements in one or more mediums outlined in the existing policy.

Businesses that are considering employing overseas skilled workers on a Subclass 457 (Temporary Work (Skilled)) visa, Subclass 482 (Temporary Skill Shortage) visa, or Subclass 494 (Skilled Employer Sponsored Regional (Provisional)) visa will have to abide by these requirements.

Key Date and Exceptions

The enhanced LMT requirements apply to nominations lodged on or after 1 October 2020. 

The amendment will not affect nominations lodged prior to 1 October 2020 or nominations for a select occupation or a select position to which alternative evidence arrangements apply.

More Attention

There will be more attention given to employer nominations in relation to Australian workers in similar occupations when considering whether there is a genuine need for an overseas worker including:
Continue reading…

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New! Travel Exemptions

New! Travel Exemptions

Due to COVID-19, currently only Australian citizens and permanent residents are permitted to enter Australia. However, immediate families of Australian citizens or permanent residents with a temporary visa and skilled individuals in certain critical sectors can apply for an exemption from the current restrictions to enter the country.

Exemption Request

From 2 September 2020, visa applicants or current visa holders who are working and/or sponsored in a Priority Migration Skilled Occupation List (PMSOL) may be eligible to request an exemption to enter Australia. There is no need to hold a current visa to lodge the exemption request.

To apply for a travel exemption applicants need to provide certain mandatory information to the Department and complete and pay for a mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

Next Steps 

We can assist you with your application to the Department for a travel exemption if you are:

  • an immediate family member of an Australian citizen or permanent resident
  • a sponsored employee whose occupation is on the current PMSOL
  • Continue reading…