Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called for bosses to be able to extend flexible COVID-19 arrangements to allow full-time workers to work for reduced hours and reduced pay to protect jobs.
As the Morrison Government prepares to announce the fate of the JobKeeper payment next month, the Prime Minister said workplace flexibility was shaping up as as important as the wage subsidy.
Under the JobKeeper laws, employers were given temporary powers to reduce hours of work and where employees work.
The Prime Minister suggested that even if the JobKeeper payments are phased out from September, that flexibility should remain.
“That is the constant feedback we have as well,‘’ he said.
“It’s important in talking about ongoing fiscal support we also talk about ongoing industrial relations flexibility. Industrial relations inflexibility in this environment will cost jobs.
“If we were to go to a situation where the industrial relations flexibility was withdrawn post September, what that would mean is that the rigid rules around full-time employment and part-time, which employers are managing to keep people in yobs and share hours and doing things like that, if those rigid rules were reinforced – we talked about this at National Cabinet today – those on part-time hours would be most at risk.”
“That’s because in order to fulfil the requirement of the full-time hours, at the full rates, then I fear that that could lead to part-time employment being lost unnecessarily and we know that and particularly women, are affected, would be affected if part-time jobs were to go as well as more than 12-month casual employees who have more casual hours, that’s where businesses may have to regrettably move if that were the case.“
A Treasury review is examining options to move to a monthly turnover test for JobKeeper.
But the Prime Minister appeared to rule out any changes applying to the existing scheme that expires on September 27.
“Well, I said consistently the scheme will run as it was intended to until the end of September. There are no changes to that,” he said.
“That would be a change to the scheme. I said – the point about geography and putting it in for six months, when other countries only put it in for three months, was to give a stability and platform for employees and employers alike, so they could operate with confidence about what that set of arrangements were.
“I have no doubt that there are many businesses now fortunately who have moved above that threshold.
“Our hope is more and more parts of the economy won’t need them and they will be able to move forward,’’ he said.