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JobKeeper has been useful to your business, helping to tide your company over through the lull caused by the pandemic. It has allowed you to retain your employees and operate without any drastic changes to your operations and your staff. But what will you do now that the Scheme is coming to an end on the 28th of March 2021?

You are most likely thinking about cost saving options and the current arrangements you have in place with your staff, such as reduced hours of work or flexible working arrangements. As part of that thought process, here are 3 key things you should keep in mind.

1. Communicate with your employees

You should maintain open and clear communication about the company’s future plans with your employees, as the JobKeeper Scheme comes to an end. It is not necessary for you to divulge all details, but keeping employees abreast of the general direction the company is taking, is important for several reasons;

  • If you are intending on restructuring, you will most likely have consultation obligations under an Award and or an Enterprise Agreement. Part of consulting is about open communication. Failure to meet such obligations could render redundancies as a result of a restructure invalid and your company could be susceptible to an unfair dismissal application.
  • Maintaining open communication during such a time allows for a free flow of ideas which may at some points be beneficial to your business. Your employees may have alternative options and suggestions that you might not have thought of.
  • Keeping your employees updated and aware of the situation, creates a better working environment, as your employees are not on edge or anxious about their future. In turn, it allows for you to keep tabs on any employees that may be struggling mentally as a result of the change in circumstances. NECA Victoria offers a free Employee Assistance Program if you are a NECA member. The service provider, Hunterlink, offers a team of counsellors, psychologists, social workers and other specialist health professionals for all NECA members, their employees and their immediate families. For further information, you can call Hunterlink on 1800 554 654.
2. Employees on reduced hours

As part of the JobKeeper Scheme, you may have had some of your employees on reduced hours under a “JobKeeper Enabling Stand Down Direction.” With the JobKeeper Scheme concluding on the 28th of March 2021, such a direction will also come to an end.

This means that your employees must revert to their usual hours of work as of the 29th of March 2021. If, for business reasons, you cannot offer an employee their usual hours of work, you must approach them with this issue and make an offer for reduced hours. There may be a possibility that your employee accepts a reduction of hours until such time you can offer them their full hours at a later stage. For such an arrangement, you must take care to document it all in writing, including the employee’s consent.

Do note that you cannot unilaterally reduce an employee’s hours. They must consent to it.  If your employee does not agree and you cannot, for financial reasons, maintain that role in a full-time capacity, you may need to offer a redundancy to the employee.

3. Other cost saving options

Start considering other cost savings you can make, without reverting to reducing your workforce as the first option.

  1. Revisit and renegotiate any supplier contracts you have. There might be opportunities to reduce the cost of certain equipment or items you use for your customers.
  2. Consider shuffling your workforce around if you want to maintain your staff. Is there an opportunity to have some of your employees work in another area where there are enough tasks while the company recovers?

Start thinking about all of your options now to avoid hasty decisions being made at a later stage. If you would like to discuss your options, please get in touch with us via admin@workplacerelations.com.au or 1300 632 247 or via our Contact Us page. If you are a NECA Victoria member, the Workplace Relations team can assist you as part of your membership – workplace.relations@neca.asn.au or via the Contact Us page.

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