LIVE Q&A
JobKeeper and Commercial Leasing Debrief.

Join Ben Thompson and Shane Duffy as they talk through the recent JobKeeper announcements and the commercial leasing relief offering.

As well as the discussion, there is dynamic audience involvement and a live Q&A session.  

Watch now.

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Meet your hosts

Ben Thompson

Ben Thompson is the CEO and founder of Employment Hero. He is an employment laywer, a businesses owner and has well over 20 years experience in the Australian employment landscape. A self confessed geek, Ben has boundless curiosity, enthusiasm and ambition. He thrives on creating innovative solutions, industry firsts and disruptive offerings that redefine markets.

Shane Duffy

Shane Duffy is the CEO of Employment Innovations. He has over 20 years of experience working in people management. Shane's expertise stems from providing workplace relations advice and advocacy to employers since graduating in 2002. Shane also has extensive HR business partnering and management experience across mixed industry external clients after commencing with EI in 2008.

Shane Duffy CEO employment innovations

 

Transcript

Ben

Welcome everybody to another Employment Hero and Employment Innovations webinar. Just to help answer some of your questions and help as many businesses through this process as we possibly can. It's a pleasure to have Shane Duffy with me today. I've worked with Shane for over a decade and I'm constantly impressed with his knowledge and ability to manage both people and businesses very well, so welcome Shane. 

 

Shane

Good afternoon Ben and everyone.

 

Ben
Shane today we're going to try and cover as much as we can for people around both the JobKeeper payments as well as I think we'll touch on towards the end the commercial leasing code and the ability for employees to get some relief from their lease payments. We are also going to just basically cover the main topics, so what are the key what are the key what are the jobkeeper payment what is the job payment and how is it different from job seeker, who is eligible to receive it, what is the payment process, how can you apply, the pitfalls of the job keeper payment. We'll also address some common questions including how to manage jobkeeper for employees that have been stood down and lastly we'll open it up to Q&A. We've had thousands of people registered for this and we have already received over 300 questions so we do have some questions prepared already but do use the Q&A box in the bottom of the webinar panel where you can submit questions and we will try to get to as many as we can. 

 

Before we kick off I'll also mention that the amazing team at Employment Hero and Employment Innovations have put together a very robust package on on Jobkeeper that we will share a link for shortly. You can register if you want that just put your details in there we're in the final stages of drafting it and as soon as it's ready within the next 24 hours we will email it out to you, but at this stage it's on it's about 45 pages long so we're trying to simplify it a little bit before we send it out but it does cover a lot so keep your eyes open for that and don't forget to register if you'd like to receive it. Okay Shane so let's let's jump into it the jobkeeper payments. What is your understanding? Give us an overview of what jobkeeper payment is and how people should think about it and think about applying for it before we get into something more specific. 

 

Shane

Sure thing obviously we're dealing with quite a significant piece of financial assistance to Australian businesses and their employees. I think it's probably the biggest single piece of government financial assistance to in Australia's history to the tune of a hundred and thirty billion dollars so it's a significant piece of assistance. In those times what we're dealing with with jobkeeper payments and we'll talk about jobkeeper payments and then we'll go into another angle which is jobkeeper directions but jobkeeper payments have been set up to allow eligible employers and we'll go into that in detail as well - for for their wages to be subsidised up to $1500 per eligible employee, per fortnight for six months. We'll go into what type of eligible employee is our entire to apply for that but significantly it's being designed as a way to keep people employed throughout this throughout this period. 

 

How does it differ from the job seeker payment just just let's get up right upfront what to package and how they differ. Job seeker is there for individual,s so job seeker is about for 

individuals to apply to services Australia for assistance if they're out of work that used to be the case and obviously the government made it only changes to that to double the jobseeker payment throughout this unprecedented period. That continues to apply for individuals the jobkeeper initiative is set up for employers to register and receive assistance to then distribute it through to their employees and support their employees and the businesses through this period. 

 

Okay so so if a business is interested they they believe that eligible what do they need to know in order to to apply for the job component yeah so the criteria sort of been out there for a while now and obviously there are just a few key things that need to be established surround loss of turnover so for a business with less than a billion dollars in turnover they need to establish that their turnover has fallen while more than 30 percent in a relevant period profit - unless there are not-for-profit. Not-for-profits will be able to establish eligibility through a fifteen percent decline in top-line from a comparable period and obviously for those larger billion dollar revenue enterprises the non banks, they can establish eligibility what a 50% drop in turnover.

 

Okay so we've also heard about a jobkeeper direction. What is this? Yeah so if a business is eligible for jobkeeper payments we've now seen introduction of what they call jobkeeper directions, so for any eligible jobkeeper business they now have greater flexibility to enact what's called jobkeeper directions, which are a range of different measures that they can look at such as issuing partial or full stand down provisions of employees, where and when work is performed and the way any leaves may be taken or paid - so probably guess that the the key thing is there are already been there already stand our provisions in the we've been in the act for some time now and many employers have already exercised stand down provisions prior to jobkeeper coming into play.

 

Though they were pretty black-and-white and regards to what you could do you can only exercise a full stand down and only in certain situations you could actually do that with jobkeeper directions coming in. If the business is eligible they can enact a partial stand out so it might be just a simple reduction in someone's hours from full-time to part-time or it could be any other arrangements, like that which can be done at the employers discretion unilaterally without that agreement all it can move on to other things around that directing employees to take annual leave so long as they've got two weeks left over after that leave has been taken so let's give employers a lot more flexibility and freedom now to circumnavigate terms that were in awards contracts around. How this can be done those powers now can allow employees to consider other ways to get through this period and whether they manage their employees, so train to some of the jobkeeper directives there's a do you still need to they relevant to in two particular industries or types of businesses or are they universally relevant.

 

Now they're fairly wide reaching because if the business has been impacted and not qualify for jobkeeper payments, you will be able to explore options around jobkeeper directions. so many industries, many employers will be able to utilize these additional powers and flexibilities to navigate through here. So it doesn't discriminate based on industry - it obviously comes back to that clear criteria around how much turnover has been lost 

 

Ben

I'm just gonna launch a survey just to see how many people are actually considering applying for jobkeeper. I'm that you should go up onto your screens now if you can let us know whether or not you're you're looking at it that'd be great and while you doing that I will just move into the next section and I'm already seeing hundreds of questions starting to come through so we'll start to get into more of the detail so we're looking at jobkeeper and stand down or reverse redundancies. I guess you know in the last few days we’ve been discussing some of this and it's an interesting situation that a lot of businesses find 

themselves in where they have already stood down employees and would now like to apply effort for jobkeeper, so we might just dig into that one and understand exactly what you would do in those circumstances.

 

I'll do now so I'll share those poll results 88% of people on them on the webinar today say that they do plan or have applied for job keeper and 12% of people on the call don't believe that they will apply or use job keeper - and you are the lucky ones if you're in that situation, so interesting to see that you know close to 90% of people intend to use it. The prime minister said that he believes when they launched it that 60% of companies would take advantage of it and it looks like it's even exceeding that - there's been nearly a million applications already on the website from employers so it's quite significant.

 

We've had lots of questions about how to unwind stand downs and redundancies let's talk through a couple of those scenarios firstly let's consider company and they’re an events company - they have about 30 full-time staff members and a handful of part-timers given overnight 80% of their foreseeable events and revenue disappeared they made the choice to stand down most of their work for they recently heard about JobKeeper payments and wish to offer this to their stood down staff. What can they do and what are the processes they need to go through to to sort of trigger this?

 

Shane

 

Yeah first thing to do is be confident that you can apply jobkeeper in that situation obviously on face value it seems that business will satisfy the criteria as an eligible employer so I guess the process for applying is simply going on to the ATO website and putting in your details as an employing entity and then at some stage between now the end of the month there'll be requirements to qualify or substantiate that that drop in revenue the next thing to do would be to... 

 

Ben

 

Sorry to keep jumping in if it's okay with you just to pick on a few of those points so do you have a tweak do we know yet what needs to be provided to the ATO to substantiate the decline in revenues?

 

Shane

 

Yeah there are pretty strict provisions of applied in the legislation and what they're going to use as a primary test to determine a change in revenue and what they're looking at is the March or the April period so you can use the April period for the purpose of making the initial application what they're looking for is a comparable period in 2019 so typically March April 2019, if they can see a significant decline in turnover in those periods that will satisfy the primary tests around this there is discretion for the Tax Commissioner or the ATO to look at alternative tests where deemed appropriate so there might be businesses that have other set of circumstances or other ways their business runs that they might be able to make an argument the eligibility so they should definitely be applying and to be trying to make an argument around their eligibility on those arrangements that might be able to be established and agreed by the ATO. 

 

Ben


I think just to clarify I think it's also worth pointing out that even if your revenue hasn't declined sufficiently to to qualify for jobkeeper in in April March or April if you do fall into that bracket at some point into the future sometime before the end of September when jobkeepers is finished, then you can always apply at any point in the future so long as you can substantiate the decline in revenue and you will start well if you qualify correctly you will start to become eligible at any point over the next moment at that point in time.

 

Shane

 

Correct yes. 

 

Ben

Okay so we now know that this business can apply what they need to provide at least we've got an idea of that now what do they need to do in terms of the education.

 

Shane

 

So we've got a situation in where the employees have been stood down under the old stand down arrangements of the old the Fair Work Act so now they're going to consider what the impact of jobkeeper payments will have on their ability to maybe offer that to their employees and what it means for them as a business around their obligations to fulfill that what their what the requirements are. In the first month there's there's a lot of flexibility given because employers are trying to establish what it all means and how it all ties so if if a business now wishes to participate in this they're not obliged to but if they wish to apply and participate in the jobkeeper scheme they will be required to know they can back pay employees during April all the way back to the 30th of March which is the commencement of jobkeeper up to the $1500 job keeper payment they can make that back payment anytime during April and then subsequently be be paid by the in the first 14 days of May. So for these businesses that don't have any cash coming and there's obviously some key considerations around whether or not it's going to be practicable for them or not to commit to jobkeeper payments because they are gonna have to find the cash to fund the payroll in the month and in subsequent months before getting the money back from the ATO to cover those wages.

 

Ben

 

Yeah I think that's a really really critical point for everybody on the call when I first saw the jobkeeper announced and until only a couple of days ago. In fact yesterday when I saw the ATO’s website updated it appeared to me that you would be able to receive the first installment of jobkeeper in the first week or 2 weeks of May and then use the amount that you received to back pay people for the period from the start of April but it now is very clear that you must have already paid those employees who are eligible the $1500 or more throughout that period before you will be entitled to receive the first installment. 

 

Shane

 

So look, typically we're talking for every 10 employees you're looking at between fifty and sixty thousand dollars worth of cash flow you're gonna need every month throughout the period of  jobkeeper. You need to be prepared to be looking at that side of it if you're gonna jump into this arrangement.

 

Yes definitely yeah. The second thing is if you do is so much that you will do you do want to entertain the idea of jobkeeper I mean you're not obliged to but if you do think it's you can you can commit to those arrangements you then follow the next steps around putting in place the jobkeeper arrangements with your employees so that involves obviously notifying them that you intend to nominate them for jobkeeper the employees will then need to complete a required form that declares that they will be receiving jobkeeper from you as the employer and then between now and 30th of April you can then make good on those payments in your pay runs moving forward from that you will be required to pay those employees in their normal pay cycle, so you won't be given the opportunity to back pay as you are in the first month. It's got to be done in their normal pay cycles.

 

Ben

 

Importantly with the introduction of STP payroll when you submit your STP file to the ATO at the completion of the pay period, the ATO now know who's been paid and how much they've been paid so they'll be looking at that data to test that you have actually already paid people the jobkeeper allowance see there's I don't I don't see too many ways around. 

 

Shane

 

So the other thing is be careful about the types of employees that are eligible as well. Not every employee is eligible for a jobkeeper payment so once again even if the employers or employee themselves might not be eligible. Some examples of that could be someone who wasn't employed as at the 1st of March 2020 so if they had subsequently been employed after that date they're not going to be eligible for a jobkeeper subsidy. You're also talking about no casuals that are not deemed to be long term and we can go into that but certainly no casuals that are irregular and work less than 12 months are also not going to qualify. Anyone under the age of 16 doesn't qualify and certain visa holders also won't qualify for a jobkeeper payment. So typically only Australia New Zealand residents and permanent residents will be entitled to it. The other thing is an employee who may be receiving jobkeeper from another employer obviously can't get it from two employers. So there are a number of different things you need to look at from the employee's point of view to whether or not they are actually in or not.

 

Ben

 

Yeah well I mean that's an interesting one in itself that the next step of the process is to issue the issue employee is with the jobkeeper nomination. This will acknowledge that they are eligible for their employer and that allows the employer to then you know safely I presume based on the employees acknowledgment or I think it's actually more tightly worded than an acknowledgement it's actually a test. Yeah I would gone for the four moves it appears that they are making a declaration as such like they would on a tax file declaration form around there's this that is so that's obviously pretty important. Yeah so on that process, an employer needs to provide an email and somehow deliver to every employee in the business the jobkeeper employee nomination form the employer needs to complete their their side of it which is pretty simple. It's just their employers employing entities employment details with the employee into these details and then the employee needs to return that and acknowledge that they are either eligible and/or not eligible for it and that then needs to be retained on file for five years. You don't actually have to provide that to the ATO but you do need to retain a copy of that electronic or paper for five years to justify your decisions on who was it, who you paid to. So then what's the next step?

 

Shane

 

Then obviously the next step apart from other scenes to getting the payments and managing the payroll side of things. Is there are some it there are some other options now available to the employer that might not have been available before so in this situation where they have exercised two full stand-down of the employees with jobkeeper in play? The employer may want to reconsider whether they want to engage the employees partially throughout the next few months they might there might be some ability to usefully engage them for some period of time rather than being fully stood down from work for the duration of jobkeeper so that but the by all means they can look at those options around whether they want to utilize staff and pay them wages for the period that they weren't being subsidized by by jobkeeper. 

 

Ben

 

Yeah so I guess the next issue in that in that particular scenario that we're looking at is so you you've met the threshold in terms of you've seen a decline in revenue of 30 percent or greater, you've provided the the jobkeeper nomination form to employees, they've returned it you sent a list to the or report it to the ATO who you intend to claim for and have you must have paid. If we're going to start from the very start of the period first of April you must have paid every eligible employee a minimum of $1500 for those two pay periods that come before the end of April and that again will be reported through to the ATO through STP reporting provisions and then you'll receive your first installment which supplements the wages you've already paid.

 

Shane

 

That's correct, yes so the way the ATO will be dispersing the jobkeeper payments will be in fortnightly chunks. So in the first I think for every month throughout, a six-month window it'll be typically done in $3,000 except for August overly which will be $4,500 which represents three fortnightly pay periods in that particular month. So if you've got monthly pay periods or weekly pay periods obviously they're the job keeper subsidy won't line up exactly right but over the course of the six months it will bounce out right. 

 

Ben

 

Okay other things in that scenario. I guess yeah I'm just thought of one so in that scenario you've had employees who have been stood down without pay. Now that you're going to start paying them the jobkeeper allowance - do you need to create a new employment contract with how would you manage the legalities and contractual side of that?

 

Shane

 

If they're still to be stood down, I mean the initial direction you gave to the employees to be stood down can remain in place that doesn't change anything from that point of view obviously if you are looking to instigate instead of a full stand down you want to instigate a what they call a partial enabling stand down under the jobkeeper directions, obviously you need to follow the appropriate steps in doing that if you want that to work some hours in the coming periods so you would need to follow that process if you are instigating something. But if they get them it remain stood down in the sense that they can't be usefully engaged at all you just be flowing through the $1,500 to the employees and that's all you need to worry about. 

 

Ben

 

So just in reading the jobkeeper information package that we have put together I was reading that beforehand and ideally if you are paying people the jobkeeper allowance and you want to utilize it, do you have any suggestions about restrictions on utilizing those employees obviously are you being paid $1500 a fortnight they can't work many hours or unlimited hours. How did how do you deal with minimum wage and award implications there?

 

Shane

 

Yeah there are definitely some consideration it's not a full way to basically engage in in all different ways - you've got some examples where say if it's in a casual employee normally casual employees would be required to work the roster day hours that are their casual employees might be able to reasonably refuse some shifts that were maybe offer to them that might be beyond what would be deemed reasonable for them for whatever reason. So obviously that needs to be looked at whether a casual employee could reasonably decline shifts to take them up to the 1,500 or fortnight. Similarly you might have part-time employees that might be working a set number of hours each week 15 hours per week for example there would not necessarily be the ability to send that part time employee we want either work 20 hours is week now because of jobkeeper, but that would be a breach of of their contractual and award around what can be requested of them. They may well still be some limitations around increasing hours, certainly those jobkeeper directions. I'll allow the employee to reduce hours from the normal contractual period so long as that employee cannot be usefully employed on their normal hours.

 

Ben

 

I'm gonna throw another one at you Shane, which is what about education. Like if employees can't be reasonably utilized could you still instruct them to undergo education or 

provide them with online training courses to increase skill of your workforce? 

 

Shane

 

The question is when it becomes work and doesn't become work - and obviously the key thing here is that whenever work is performed to typically that make part of the jobkeeper subsidy that work performed is paid as normal. What I mean by that is you would need to pay superannuation on it you would obviously other types of own cost would be applied to that component of work performed the job subsidy that tops it up to the $1500 and the fortnight would not be subject to those same own costs. So the key point now if you are requesting anything to be done and it would just be a question of where that we deemed work or not to be treated.

 

Ben

 

Okay look I just want to remind people before a launch another survey in just a moment but before I do this there's over 250 questions have come in just in the last you know 20 odd minutes and I just want to remind people that the jobkeeper information package that we have put together is 45 pages long it covers all of these scenarios. It's it's very useful and so if we're not getting to your specific questions I hope that that document address those and there's lots of worked examples in there as well. So just again, you can just register to receive that by email in the next 24 hours or so.

 

Okay. Shane there's another scenario that I'll just quickly look at and see whether there's any differences here between the first one and this new scenario and Company B. They run a small boutique store but also have a small warehouse facility for stock and for online orders they made the choice to make all the boutique casuals or the BT Retail casual employees and part-time employees redundant leaving only a store manager who is also the business owner. The business owner has kept most of the warehouse staff on because online orders are still coming in. The owner would like to reverse the redundancies and keep her boutique staff employed using jobkeeper so that when she reopens the retail store she won't have to rehire. What can she do? 

 

Shane

 

Yes a lot going on there but I think I've got the key point is there that they know this this the jobkeeper does change the game a bit for a lot of businesses that might have previously made decisions around redundancy and things like that so there are now a lot of individuals and businesses that are reconsidering around redundancy. That's a good thing that's the intention of what we're trying to do here. How it works in practice though is it has to be done with mutual agreement. Now if you're looking to reinstate an employee obviously it's on terms that are satisfactory to both the employer and the employee - so a lot of things would need to be sorted through there if we're dealing with employees that might have already been made redundant or even processed termination pays - all that sort of stuff because some of that might need to be repaid by the employee. 

 

All that stuff needs to be sorted through between the employer and the employee so to make sure whatever's available to resume employment that they satisfactory to both parties. 

 

Ben

 

Okay and if they're in just a place again just I think we're covering the same ground but if they've been stood down let's presume they're been stood down without pay and then you want to start paying them the Jobkeeper allowance the $1500 per fortnight.

 

Shane

 

You don't need to re-contract with those employers that stood down that day - that's not the only time you would need to really contracts if you're doing something different? They may think remaining stood down and just passing on the 1500 dollar jobkeeper payment you just go through the process around establishing that you don't need to do anything contractually with that individual.

 

Ben

 

I've launched the next poll and we're seeing those results come in pretty quickly so the question there was has your business stood down employees or made redundancies you wish to reverse? I'll just leave that running for a few more seconds before we come back to the examples shown. 

 

Right so we're seeing that respond those that poll looking pretty much complete now and I will end and share that so in this in this example we had 77% of businesses on the call who haven't haven't made redundancies or stood people down and 23% of people who have, so interesting that 90% of people want to take when you use the jobkeeper allowance but only 77 percent of people will have stood people down already which may imply that the jobkeeper allowance is actually doing the work that the government wanted to which is to keep people employed and and and prevent them from being stood down or laid off so that's a positive. I think that's a positive sign there alright. Shane there's some questions that we received a lot of questions beforehand so I might just start to throw out some of these these questions and and we'll run through them quickly. These are fairly common. Can an employer claim job seeker payments for staff also cheaper payments for staff that are on leave whether that's annual leave leave without pay or sick leave.

 

Shane

 

The answer is yes to those leave types there are some other forms of leave where the employee will be ineligible for jobkeeper subsidy. Some examples would include if the employee is receiving paid parental leave or if they're receiving dad and partner pay - those if it has occurred in any of the pay period I've got employees ineligible for the job subsidy for that period. So those scenarios yeah that's it so but typically so those again if an employee at any stage and a fortnightly period has received dad and partner pay or paid parental leave even if it's for one day or two days in that fortnight they will not receive a jobkeeper subsidy in that particular period by other leave and your leave personal leave long service leave that's paid to the employee is completely fine and can be subsidized.

 

Ben

 

Another common question how does the ATO defined turnover in relation to qualifying for jobkeeper payments? We sort of covered this at the top.

 

Shane

 

Yeah looking at the GST and the BAS statements primarily would be the tool I'll use around revenue. Obviously in the case of charities they look at other measures that are relevant to a charity. I don't won't go into much detail there on that stuff but primarily be looking at revenue on those fronts. 

 

Ben

 

Okay where a self-employed person has employees can they get a jobkeeper payment for themselves or is it only for their employees? 

 

Shane

 

Now you a self-employed individual can also claim job keeper, it for themselves there are limitations on partnerships though that only one partner is eligible for a jobkeeper subsidy but certainly sole traders can comply themselves.




Yeah I think that's really important there's a lot of initially when I saw jobkeeper come out and it looked like it was only four employees and you have a number of people who have their own proprietary limited company and they may not be registered as an employee of that company they they live off dividends and and and profit but now they have it they have agreed that one shareholder or director of the business is also eligible yes that's correct as well in those cases. 

 

Ben

 

Okay for those employees that are on jobkeeper can we reduce their weekly hours to the equivalent of the job keeper payment and what if they refuse to agree to this reduction or refuse to work any hours whilst receiving the subsidy?

 

Shane

 

Okay so the first question about the ability to reduce hours as a jobkeeper direction - you know the employer does have the ability to direct an employee to work less hours than the only contracted to do so long as that know that that request is reasonable and what I mean by reasonable is that that can't be usefully engaged as normal so that's definitely possible. The second question was what both employee refuses to work out all well the the employee would just be dealt with normally as you normally would if they are either failing to attend for work or not following a reasonable direction from the employer and may be subject to to disciplinary action up to termination. The businesses need to show a 30% downturn in revenue each month to qualify or to continue to qualify for the stimulus - my understanding this one or not that might require further clarification is I believe once you are in you're in for the full six months so once you can qualify right now you've got it for the full six months duration even if there might be circumstances that do change and obviously. If you apply a later date once you're in you're in but don't take that as gospel because I but that's what I've read so far. 

 

Ben

 

Great and I think that's probably a good trigger just to remind people that you know anything that Shane and I are saying today or even the the package the white paper job paper directives and other information that we're sharing we you know we've none of that is his legal advice or financial aids. It's everything that we can find to the best of our knowledge and there are a number of really important points that are not fully clarified so don't take any direct advice.

 

Shane

 

Yeah I was just going to say the fact that the government have allowed a lot of discretion to the ATO and in setting all the rules so obviously now things can change on a whim.



Ben

 

Yeah it's a good point I read the legislation and it's very short for it for a piece of legislation that the next 130 billion dollars-worth support for businesses it's a very short piece of legislation and effectively what it does is it just gives government departments the power to enact all of this. It doesn't have a system designed to do this like that. No one had any you know, any forethought about how to distribute this type of payment to people so there's figured it out on the fly in a very short time period and and it's just constantly evolving we're seeing you know almost daily update on the ATO website and I think at four o'clock we've got another call with the ATO just to get more updates from them. So yeah it's definitely very fluid. I might move briefly into the next section which is on the commercial rent code and how that works. 

 

Shane

 

Yes it is relevant to jobkeeper because they are using the same eligibility criteria for a business who has qualified the jobkeeper to the other then fall under the provisions of the new code which deals with our tenants and their landlords can negotiate terms during this period so what it seems to be on face value is that where a business has suffered the required change in turnover they can approach their landlord. The new landlord needs to act in good faith to to negotiate a reasonable change in terms for that period, so that's my take on the the code at this stage and once together difficulty with this is the codes been drafted at the federal level, it then requires a corporation or a state level which seems like we've got but there might be some some differences at state level you need to consider as well.

 

Ben

 

Yeah I think it's a little bit like the jobkeeper legislation that delegate authority to their ATO in this case the the commercial leasing code really just delegates responsibility to the landlord and the lessee and says you know subject to a very small number of provisions in the code you have to work it out amongst yourselves. But all provisions are if you qualify for jobkeeper you qualify for some rent relief and you can't be evicted under the lease for at least the next six months. If you're suffering financial distress the lessee has to abide by and commit to staying on as a lessee and abiding by the terms of their lease other than you know whatever is negotiated with the landlord for for rental relief and really the amount of rental relief is to be negotiated between the landlord and the tenant taking into account the amount of revenue that that business has seen decline during the period so it's it's really good faith  negotiations, but if you can't you can't terminate the lease the landlord must offer a rent reduction relative to the tenants loss rate. I did see somewhere and we were just talking about it before the call, that it was up so I thought it was up to 50% but I can't find that restriction. I think it's now just a loss then I'm not sure. 

 

Shane

 

I think them were saying yeah look at appears though this there is a broader flexibility to negotiate with your landlord and or if you're a landlord with your chance around a reduction in rent that might exceed 50 percent obviously might be less but it's gonna require some tact and and and proper negotiation around the table around how it's still with you back then yeah. 

 

Ben

 

So anything else on the rent relief side of things?

 

Shane

 

No I think I think I just jumped in and spoke when you're a brief moment there I think it just made you go sit around a table and discuss things and you probably gonna have to open book things more than you used to do with with your landlord and vice versa and and had that sort of transparency in order to get something that might be satisfactory out of this. 

 

Ben

 

Yeah I think also just keeping your landlord informed and sharing you know financial information to substantiate anything that you're any relief you're asking for is incredibly important so be very transparent and and work together you know that we're always hearing that we're all in this together. Landlords and tenants are in this together and we have to work our way through it you know in a sensible way.

 

All right let's just move into Q&A then there's hundreds of questions here so I'll just start to throw them out to you and we'll go from there yeah are employees that are on the job keeper eligible to be paid more for public holidays?

 

Shane

Okay good question because just putting job keeper aside for a minute in regards to employees that have been stood down they it's important that you can't actually be stood down on a day that you would normally be paid for not being at work which could be a public holiday.

 

So typically an employee who who isn't required to work on public holidays and I paid as such you can't be stood down on those days so the requirement is that the employer actually needs to pay those public holidays as normal and then obviously with jobkeeper it and play no topping up the employee to the required $1500 in that fortnightly period there so if an employee that's that's sort of the in moving forward obviously where that happens and we've got on that day coming up so all it means is that they still the employee would still be paid. He's saying no for the fifteen bills in a fortnight but there is a requirement for stood down permanent employees if they wouldn't have worked in a public holiday that that public holiday is paid as wages and is treated as wages.

 

Ben

Okay so how does that if you're only paying the fifteen hundred and somebody works somebody's receiving that over a public holiday period does that mean they still only get paid for 1,500 or get the 1500?

 

Shane

So you're only required to top up to the 1500 but a portion of that 1500 would be deemed wages whereas a remainder would be would be jobkeeper. If an employee would have normally been required to work on a public holiday it's obviously different scenario because it's just treated like any other normal day -  you can stand them down and obviously you just pass on the subsidy in those scenarios so it's only those that would effectively wouldn't have worked but be paid on a public holiday you could have treat it that way so they basically have it's unchanged from that respect.

 

Ben

 

Okay there's a question here which is on which all addresses does Employment Hero have a jobkeeper directive template. We don't currently but I will look at that and to see whether we can put a template into Employment Hero that can be used to buy employees to give those directives to their employees under the new jobkeeper directives. I'll also mention now that the we're looking literally right now we're looking at how we can import the jobkeeper employee nomination form into Employment Hero so that employers can distribute that to all of their employees and then get their employees to select whether they do or don't qualify and then we'll get those responses back into the platform and have those stored in the employee file for five years so hopefully we can streamline the process of the job keeper nomination form that needs to go out 

 

Shane

 

Just doubling on that I mean when we go the jobkeeper direction whatever got to it but there is a requirement for it to being writing there's a requirement to provide three days notice before any jobkeeper direction takes effect. So now there are some other provisions that are really important around that so certainly I've been documented and providing that notice before the change takes effect is. 

 

Ben

 

Can casual employees whose 12-month anniversary falls in May become eligible? 

 

Shane

 

We don't believe that they are eligible, it seems to me that they would have had to have been eligible at the first of March so unfortunately. 

 

Ben

 

So the questions here around how to register for that paper so if you want the whitepaper that we've put together with all of these questions and answer. If you just go to the Q&A section by the chat section, so at the bottom of the screen where it says chat you'll see in there that the team have already shared a link to to the whitepaper jobkeeper directives comprehensive guide and if you just click on that you'll be able to register for it.


Shane another one for you - do leave entitlements still accrue when an employee is on partial or full stand down?

 

Shane

 

Oh yes they do so look any any sort of possible or complete stand down that's been given employees will crew leave on their normal terms and conditions of employment for the duration of that stay in their period yeah I suppose the other one to be mindful of here is that prior to jobkeeper coming into play last week, a lot of employers and employees had already jumped the gun and agreed to other arrangements to try and navigate through this period. An example might be that the employers didn't rely on partial stand now they actually negotiated with the employees to have a temporary reduction in hours ordinary hours of work and which basically buried the the employees contracts for a period of time now technically speaking those arrangements - I'm not partial stand down status temporary changes to people's employment conditions so in those situations from a technical point of view you you're not really obliged to actually have to accrue leave on the old conditions in saying that though many employers who I've been speaking to have done that recently have obviously decided to do that because what they've tried to do is do this at a mutual and from a mutual point of view but there's no technical obligation to but certainly that's how that would be not an arm dealt with as well. 

 

Ben


So I'm just gonna stop sharing the results of that last poll but interestingly there was 70% of people were aware of the commercial lease relief that was available but 30%of people on the call were not so I've shared I'm just about to share a link with in the chat section there that that takes you to an explainer about relief for commercial tenants so hopefully that will be helpful, but back to back to that point that you just made Shane there's another question here. If employees, so jobkeeper for employees that have taken a twenty five percent pay cut how does that work?

 

I think the key point for people to understand again and I think it's absolutely critical to understand that jobkeeper is a supplement provided by the government to employers to help them pay every employee and keep them employed and even if an employee's taken a twenty five percent pay cut if they're paid more than fifteen hundred dollars the per fortnight the jobkeeper allowance is going to the business to help supplement you know the cost of continuing to employ people so those employees who've taken a 25% pay cut it doesn't necessarily you know receiving the jobkeeper allowance doesn't change anything necessarily provided that they paid more than $1500 per fortnight. They can continue to get paid as you've negotiated with them directly. 

 

Shane

 

You know I think just add to that what I'll be advising employers to do because you've acted in cooperation with employees. The jobkeeper subsidy has changed the game slightly so I mean obviously if you are entering those arrangements with employees I think you probably want to be pretty clear to employees as to why what impact jobkeeper has or hasn't made to the business and regards to why those changes were necessary. So I think just like we said with the commercial leasing and we know I think you need to be transparent with the employees as well around where the business stands and why those measures were necessary and if or not the jobkeeper makes a difference or not to that sort of arrangement.

 

Ben

Here's an interesting one so one of our team members signed their contract and 5th of February but we ask them to start on the 2nd of March which date would count in terms of eligibility? 

 

Shane

Unfortunately their start date is the 2nd of March according to that so I don't know if there's much they can do about that one they are technically ineligible for the jobkeeper on face value 

 

Ben

 

I think it's also the pay period so even if they started on the 25th if they weren't if the paper if they weren't actually paid in after the 1st of March well they fell outside of that pay period then the ATO will be able to see within the STP payroll that they weren't actually paid from as at the 1st so much either.

 

Shane

I think they need to be engaged employed as at the 1st of March I mean obviously ATO we're looking at a few different things to determine whether that's true or not so yeah that might be a consideration.

 

Ben
There's one here: what if I'm behind of my on my tax and tax payments am I still eligible do? 

 

Shane

 

For people who might be one of those things has been some messages that the the ATO won't hold back any jobkeeper payments from any businesses that might already have a tax liability - they've said that once again it is at the discretion of the ATO how they deal with these things so now you probably have to tread a little bit carefully but there's definitely been messages that they're not going to hold that jo keeper in those scenarios.



Ben

 

Okay we've just got a couple of minutes to go and one on it's a good question here how would you record jobkeeper in the payroll system eg normally paying an employee nine hundred dollars a fortnight but top-up of six hundred to get them to the fifteen hundred jobkeeper allowance? Is this something that we would need to set up and how would we report that through? I think yeah just before you answer I think it's I think it's important that we're gonna we're gonna really see some very practical requirements now for people how they report how they structure their pay system and so we're gonna have to make sure that everyone that we that we can help people understand that so what are your first impressions and then I might fill up and so if we can get some step-by-step guidance we will then put that together and share it. 

 

Shane

 

There are key things that a supplement doesn't attract certain things that a normal would say certainly from a paid conditions point of view and rules. They need to be made sure they're set up appropriately to to deal with that so I'd say no there'll be more on this. I mean we're just getting through the first wavers of how jobkeeper actually works first of all then we'll probably get into the more practical application of a payroll system around that and probably provide more guidelines around that over the next few days.

 

Ben

 

That's really bringing us to four o'clock. I might finished just with this one last one shown in the scenario that that I described earlier where a director who is normally is not on the payroll but draws dividends or profit can they claim jobkeeper? How would this work for the requirement of first needing to pay wages. Would they need to be paid first as dividends or be added to the payroll?

 

Shane

 

Yeah very good question, I know the directors in this suit sense would be eligible for a jobkeeper payment so in order to get it you'll need to be able to demonstrate that's being paid. So I made you that situation you'd need to set them up as a working director and pay them in your payroll to be able to establish that they've got the money so that would be my first answer that question there might be more twists and turns with that one but that's on face value that's what I'd be suggesting.

 

Ben

 

Yeah I think I think that's really important as I mentioned earlier that the biggest surprise for me in the last four or five days is this requirement to prove that you have already paid all of your employees at least $1,500 of per fortnight before the end of April and there are going to be a lot of businesses out there who are incredibly cash constrained and may not have the ability to actually pay all of their employees the $1,500 per fortnight before the end of April. It's going to leave people in a real hole if they can't do that. 

 

The Prime Minister has mentioned that you know those type of businesses should be speaking to their banks and potentially getting loans to to cash flow that first few payments but I think that's going to be problematic for a lot of people so this is one that really keep an eye on how how to pay people how to prove that you've paid people whether it's the director of the business whether it's all of those employees who've been stood down without pay that's just it's a very difficult situation that we're about to see this end of end of April payment requirement so we'll keep an eye on that.

 

Shane, that's taken us over an hour. I know that you just finished another webinar which ran for two hours and you've taken the time out to just to be here and to speak to our customers. Thank you very much for all the time you've put into helping businesses today.

 

Shane

No worries thank you for the opportunity to come on.

 

Ben

No worries and to everyone that's still on the call thank you for attending we'll upload a copy of this webinar. Please register to receive the whitepaper on that we've put together on jobkeeper it's got lots of worked examples in there and hopefully we can answer all of your questions through that keep an eye open if you are an Employment Hero customer keep an eye out for all of the new features and functionality that's been put into the product to facilitate working from home. There's a whole bunch of stuff and we'll be running some additional webinars on that and and lastly just remember anything you can do to look out for each other and to support your employees to support your boss so to basically help anyone get through this please do everything you possibly can. I know that we are and we're incredibly proud to be supporting small and medium sized businesses with content like this and many more to come so I'm thanking Shane again and thanks to everyone for being on the call.