Information for Employers

This page will be updated regularly with new questions and answers. Join our Facebook livestream every workday at 9:15am to ask your questions and get them answered.

Navigating COVID-19

Q. What things do I need to consider if I am unable to operate my business due to a forced or voluntary shut down?

A. Some practical things to consider include: records management; staff; financial; customers; stocks and supplies; and you also need to consider, ‘looking after you’.  There is a lot to stay on top of. You can view or download our full fact sheet here: Fact Sheet – COVID-19 Business Shut-down

Q. How do I assist my staff to work from home?

A. If it is possible for your staff to work from home, there are some essential things that you need to consider to ensure that your business is meeting its contractual and work health and safety requirements. You can view or download our full fact sheet here: Fact Sheet – COVID-19 Setting Up Working From Home

Q. How do I manage working from home?

A. Even if you are accustomed to working from home, we are living in quite restrictive time – no popping out for a coffee with friends, or in and out of the office attending meetings. Pinnacle People Solutions staff have been working from home for several weeks now, and you can view or download our tips for how we are managing working from home and staying in touch with colleagues here: Fact Sheet – COVID-19 Tips for Working from Home

If you haven’t come across Zoom yet, it is a great tool for video conferencing (and security has recently been significantly improved). View or download our tips for working with Zoom here: Fact Sheet – COVID-19 Using Zoom for Meetings and Staying in Touch

Q. My employees are using their home internet connections while they work from home. How can I protect my business from any cybersecurity threats and ensure privacy of my business and client information?

A.The sudden rush to remote working can create additional cybersecurity threats to employees and their employer. This includes vulnerability to identity theft, phishing, malware and ransomware. Employers may be exposed to data breaches, privacy breaches, unauthorised access by hackers, as well as other types of threats.  We’ve curated some simple tips for employees and employers to protect themselves (with no IT degree or background required).

Q. My staff and I are working from home whilst also supervising children. Do you have any ideas on how to do this?

A. Working at home whilst supervising children is really hard work – it’s two full time jobs in one! A few of us are doing it too, and we’ve pulled together some ideas and resources to help you. View or download our Fact Sheet here: Fact Sheet – COVID-19 Working from Home with Kids

Q. There’s no work for my staff to do – what can I do?

A. There are multiple options available to you. If your business qualifies for the JobKeeper allowance, you can (with consultation) issue a Jobkeeper Direction for staff to reduce their hours, change their location of employment and/or tasks to be undertaken, with some conditions. If there is no work to do at all, standing down staff is another option. It is essential that any action taken to reduce staff hours or pay at this time is done lawfully – you do not want to create more problems for yourself. We are able to assist – contact Pinnacle People Solutions on admin@pinnaclepeoplesolutions.com.au or 1300 856 231 for personalised support.

You can view or download our full fact sheet about standing down staff here: Fact Sheet – COVID-19 Standing Down Staff

Q. I’m worried about workplace health and safety in the context of COVID-19 – what can I do to make sure I’m meeting my obligations and keeping my staff and clients as safe and healthy as possible?

A. Check your business policies – do you have a Work Health and Safety Policy and an Epidemic and Pandemic Policy and Procedure? Ensuring that you have the proper framework in place will make it easier for you to manage this complex and difficult situation. Pinnacle People Solutions can help – contact us for tailored advice about your current policies and procedures, or development of new ones. You can also contact your workers compensation insurer for further information.

JobKeeper Payment

For up to date fact sheets and information from the Australian Government about the JobKeeper payment, visit https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/jobkeeper 

This information and advice is general in nature, based on our interpretation of current legislation and policy, and does not take into account your specific circumstances. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs and seek professional advice if required. The questions and answers below are based on information available as at 9 April 2020.

Q. Can my employee refuse to accept the JobKeeper payment?

A. No – JobKeeper is an arrangement between the Australian Government and an eligible employer.

Q. My employee is on a visa – are they eligible?

A. It depends which kind of visa. At this stage, only permanent visas and Subclass 444 holders are eligible.

Q. Do I have to start paying JobKeeper right now?

A. No. It’s business as usual until the scheme is actually up and running, and you’ve been approved as an eligible business by the Australian Taxation Office. If you’re not sure about how to adjust your payroll, then please contact us and we can assist you.

Q. One of my employees is on a pension and usually earns much less than $1,500 per fortnight – will getting JobKeeper affect their pension entitlements?

A. Potentially yes. They would need to report that income to Services Australia (Centrelink) in the usual way as part of their normal reporting process.

Q. Does JobKeeper also go towards paying my staff who are on leave?

A. Yes.

Q. I have an employee on workers compensation payments – can they receive JobKeeper payments?

A. It depends if they are currently working for you or not. If they are working, even on reduced hours, then yes, but if they are not working at all, then no.

Q. I employed new staff after 1 March 21020 – can I claim JobKeeper payments for them?

A. No. JobKeeper payments are only available for staff who were on your books as at 1 March 2020.

Q. My business is closed due to government restrictions. Can I re-hire my staff and stand them down, solely to pay them JobKeeper payments?

A. Yes! That’s the point of the government scheme – to keep workers connected with their employers and enable an easier transition back to normal business operations at the end of this crisis period.

Q. My employee also works part time for another employer. Can we both claim and pay JobKeeper payments to the employee?

A. No. Only one employer can claim JobKeeper for an employee. If both employers are eligible, then the employee should approach the employer they claim the tax free threshold from (for the purposes of JobKeeper, they are assumed to be the primary employer). If the primary employer is not eligible for JobKeeper or chooses not to participate, then the employee can approach another employer. If you are in this situation and not sure how to resolve it, please give us a call and we can help you navigate a sensible path.

Q. I have a staff member on parental leave – are they an eligible staff member for the JobKeeper payment?

A. If they’re currently receiving the government parental leave payment, then they are not eligible for JobKeeper payments. If you as the employer are paying them parental leave payments, then they are eligible for JobKeeper payments.

Q. I have a casual employee who was on my payroll on 1 March 2020, but does not meet the eligibility requirements – if I offer them a part time position now, can they become eligible?

A. The eligibility rules state that employees need to be a full-time or part time employee, or a casual employed on a regular and systematic basis for longer than 12 months, as at 1 March 2020. On the face of it, it would seem that the answer to this question is no. We would advise extreme caution in such a situation – the Government has included appropriate integrity rules to prevent employers entering into artificial schemes in order to get inappropriate access to payments. There are serious consequences, including large penalties and possible imprisonment. If you have a similar issue, we urge you to contact us for tailored advice to your situation.

Q. How does JobKeeper interact with entitlements like leave accrual and superannuation?

A. Leave and service accruals continue at the original remuneration even if you change your employee’s hours to fit within the $1,500 per fortnight JobKeeper payment. This is also the case while employees are stood down.

On information currently available, superannuation must be paid on contracted/directed hours/wages/salary; so, if hours are reduced, you only need to pay superannuation on the reduced hours. If your employees are usually paid less than $1,500 per fortnight, you only need to pay them the usual amount of superannuation; that is, there is no increase in super payable on the additional payment. If this changes we will let you know, but it is a great question for your accountant or tax advisor who will be able to give you more detailed information tailored to your business situation.

Q. What happens if my staff member takes unpaid leave, like parental leave or unpaid personal/carer’s leave – do I still have to pay them the JobKeeper payment? And if I do, does that leave period count for service when unpaid leave normally wouldn’t?

A. If your employees are on leave of any sort, they still get JobKeeper payments. Normal service accrual requirements apple. Note that if they are on paid annual leave at half pay as agreed between you and your employee, they accrue service at the normal rate. No specific mention is made of unpaid leave in the legislation, so presumably entitlements continue to accrue as normal, that is, they don’t accrue during periods of unpaid leave.

Q. Can I reduce my employees’ hours to match $1,500 per fortnight and ask them to take annual and/or long service leave for the remainder of the hours?

A. Yes, provided you meet the notice periods or get agreement.

Q. If I reduce my employee’s hours to match the JobKeeper allowance, can they get another job and work elsewhere too? What if it’s with a competitor of mine?

A. Yes, they can get another job to make up their hours. Whether or not it can be with a competitor will depend on a number of different issues – we can help you figure this out, so please contact us if you’re in this situation!

Q. Can employers receive both the JobKeeper payment and the Supporting Apprentices and Trainees Wage Subsidy?

A. Not at the same time.

Q. My business and/or employees are not eligible for JobKeeper payment. What are my options?

A. The answer to this questions will very much depend on your unique business circumstances. Contact Pinnacle People Solutions on admin@pinnaclepeoplesolutions.com.au or call us on 1300 856 231 for personalised support.