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Making Sense of Work Entitlements Amid COVID-19

Published 1 Apr 2020
3 min read

This blog was written by Just Way Koay, Product Team Lead at Employment Hero. I love hieroglyphics. As a person of Chinese ancestry, I have always had a fascination with logograms where simple graphic representations can be used to depict an object, word or particular meaning. There is a particular romance in trying to decipher the submerged meaning behind those graphical artifacts in order to gain a better understanding of how they have evolved over millennia to become the written languages we use and love today. Keen interests aside, I am wholly unqualified for this line of work (obviously!) as they have proper fields of study in semiotics and sociolinguistics for this kind of stuff. If information was presented in hieroglyphics to me, I would be as useless as an umbrella with holes in a storm (or one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest) in trying to decipher them. And that leads me to the Fair Work Ombudsman (FWO) website and trying to decipher work entitlements amid COVID-19.

COVID-19 and work entitlements

Unless you have been living under a rock or a well-stocked Y2K bunker (in which case, well done you!) in a secluded nook somewhere, you should be aware of the biggest global health crisis that has hit our country. This Black Swan event has taken every country and jurisdiction around the world for a tailspin and has every Scott, Boris and Donald scrambling to get their ducks (see what I did there?) in a row to help people weather the storm. And one of these metaphorical aqua-based fowls, is distributing information on workplace laws to help businesses understand their rights and responsibilities at work during the coronavirus outbreak. A member of my family, who works in retail distribution, was unfortunately asked to stop going into work due to the steep drop in business revenue, with a letter stating that “we are no longer able to keep you employed”. Hmm… ambiguous right? Was she stood down? Was she made redundant? What’s the deal here mate!? So being in the HRIS space, I selflessly volunteered to find out what her entitlements were by researching the FWO website. I mean, how hard can it be…? How hard can it be?


Let’s be fair here, if you have ever visited the FWO website, you can instantly tell that it is a great warehouse full of resources and information. If the website was a book about the alphabet, it probably would have every single letter ranging from A to Z. Well, maybe not X, because it’s really not used that often. No, the problem comes when you try to put all the information together – aka deciphering the content. You are linked here, there and everywhere for the data you need and by the end of it all, you won’t even remember what it was you were trying to find out. Confused eyes It’s kind of like being given a dozen different parts of a jigsaw puzzle (yay, corner pieces! Whooo!!!) and when the time comes to put the pieces together, you suddenly realise that they’re all parts of different puzzles. It is hair-pullingly, feet-stompingly, table-poundingly, eyeball-gougingly frustrating. Not to mention the times when you can’t even find what you are looking for and you’re left with a gaping hole in your puzzle. Fact is, the information is not easily consumable or digestible. My heart goes out to all the business owners out there who are doing it tough with more and more drastic social regulations coming into play to “flatten the curve”, thus limiting the amount of business coming through and in extreme cases shuttering their doors. They want to do right by their employees and having to sift through mountains of intelligible information is the last thing on their minds during this health and socioeconomic crisis. And don’t even get me started on the multitude of business owners who don’t practise English as a first language. Everything on there must read like gibberish. Yoda Gibberish Meme

Help is at hand!

This is where we come in. Here at Employment Hero and Employment Innovations, we are a bunch of people who love what we do, which is to help and guide businesses with our collective knowledge and expertise. If you haven’t been following our material, well… I guess you are since you’re reading this blog, but here is a link to our great webinars separating the noise from the signal and breaking down obligations for your business. These resources will help you navigate through COVID-19 and work entitlements. FWO website information is like hieroglyphics, and we need Indiana Jones to help us decipher them to avoid having our faces melted. Indiana Jones  

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