Your preferred office location:
  1. Home
  2. /
  3. Author
  4. /
  5. Gemma Wheeler-Carver
  6. /
  7. Employment Law Update: What employers need to know about the JobKeeper subsidy
23 Apr 2020

HHG Legal Group’s Employment Law team’s Murray Thornhill and Gemma Wheeler-Carver provide employers need to know about the JobKeeper subsidy.

20200423 in article jobkeepers

Now that the legislation and JobKeeper Rules are in place, we have more clarity on some issues and a few more matters that employers should be aware of when considering whether JobKeeper is right for their business.


Key dates for JobKeeper subsidies

  • 20 April: enrolments for JobKeeper payment were opened
  • 30 April: deadline for enrolling and paying your employees to claim April JobKeeper payments
  • 4 May: from this date, you should identify your eligible employees. You have until the end of May to enrol and identify your employees.
  • Monthly: reconfirm your employees’ eligibility and update if changes are made

We explored, in our previous article, some of the criteria and suitability that a business must consider before taking up the JobKeeper subsidy but if employers wish to take advantage of the first fortnight of JobKeeper subsidies, they will need to apply on or before 30 April 2020 for the period commencing 30 March 2020. Therefore it is important to get urgent taxation law and financial advice on your business’ eligibility. Businesses should also keep in mind that the payments will be made in arrears, with the first payments for eligible employers commencing the first week of May 2020.

If you’re not in a position to make the decision or aren’t currently eligible, businesses may still take advantage of the JobKeeper subsidies at a later date (noting that payments are only available until the fortnight ending 27 September 2020 at this stage).

What are the employment law considerations for employers?

First steps for employers is they’ll need to consider which (if any) employees are “eligible employees.

Factors to consider include:

  1. whether an employee was employed by you as at 1 March 2020;
  2. their employment status (full-time, part-time, long-term casual or other);
  3. age (over 16 years old);
  4. residency status; and
  5. eligibility at another workplace, and their agreement to be nominated by you.

If you do not have any eligible employees, you will not be eligible for the JobKeeper scheme even if you satisfy the turnover calculation.

What if  ‘stand downs’ or redundancies have already occurred?

Where employees have been stood down on or after 1 March 2020 due to a “work stoppage”, and are eligible employees, businesses may reinstate those employees to their previous roles (or another role) or continue to retain them on stand down. [Our previous article explores in detail employee ‘stand down and its implications for employers].

If, instead of stand down, an employer chose to make employees redundant after 1 March 2020, an employer may now be able to reinstate those employees, but should carefully consider the impact of that reinstatement including previously paid severance payments, possible unfair dismissal applications (where a termination was not a genuine redundancy), whether a varied employment contract is required and whether the employee will be returning to the same or a different role.

Implications of recent changes to the Fair Work Act and Awards

As part of the implementation of the JobKeeper scheme, the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) has also been amended to provide greater flexibility to employers who are eligible for the JobKeeper scheme in relation to directions on stand down, variations to hours (and pay) and variations to an employee’s role.

In addition, many Awards were recently updated to allow greater flexibility to employers in relation to:

  • annual leave;
  • changes to work hours; and
  • the provision of “pandemic leave”.

Employers may wish to consider if these options may provide an alternative (or be used in conjunction with) the JobKeeper subsidies.

Whether they are taking the benefit of the JobKeeper scheme, changes to the Fair Work Act, variations to the Award or options under an enterprise agreement (which can be varied with the consent of employees), employers must ensure that they continue to comply with their employment law obligations, including:

  • Payment of minimum wage and other entitlements;
  • Notification and consultation requirements under various Awards and industrial instruments;
  • Workplace health and safety obligations;
  •  Record-keeping obligations under the Fair Work Act; and
  • Reporting obligations to the ATO and other regulators.

So where does that leave the employer and employee obligations?

Employers and employees continue to remain bound by any employment contract that exists unless that contract is varied (with the consent of both parties) or the contract provides for a particular type of variation, such as a reduction in hours or change to role. We recommend that any variations are recorded in writing and signed.

Where changes to employment are made due to a business taking advantage of the JobKeeper scheme, employers should ensure that any changes to hours, rates, and roles are recorded in writing and there is clear agreement as to how long those changes will continue.

I operate as a sole trader, partnership or trust structure – am I eligible for JobKeepers?

Sole traders and partnerships, as well as some trusts, may be eligible for JobKeeper subsidies, but should keep in mind that (unless they are a national system employer) many of the obligations and benefits under the Fair Work Act may not apply to them; rather they will need to look to State legislation, such as the Industrial Relations Act 1979 (WA) and Minimum Conditions of Employment Act 1993 (WA). Further information is available on the ATO website.

For further information on the taxation aspect of Job Keepers, please see a copy of the Tax Institutes most recent newsletter HERE. 

HHG Legal Group can assist

It is important for businesses to get early and specific legal and financial advice on these matters before enrolling in the scheme to avoid running into financial or legal issues at a later stage. HHG Legal Group and our taxation and accounting partners can provide speedy advice on these issues and more

For over 100 years HHG Legal Group has been proudly serving Western Australian families, business and individuals. Never before has the State seen such a crippling time for many small businesses and we are committed to supporting the communities in which we operate. If you require advice relating to your obligations as a small business employer in the time of COVID-19, or have any other employment law queries, we are offering unprecedented initial consultation fees to assist in these challenging times.

Contact us to book a telephone, video or safely distanced meeting with an employment lawyer or call us on 1800 609 945. 

*This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. Please consult one of our experienced Legal Team for specific advice relevant to your situation.

Supporting Western Australians for more than 100 years

"Always fast and thorough service. Thank you"


My circumstances at the time I made contact with HHG were dire following my argument being rejected by two no win no fee firms. Following my initial meeting with HHG's employment law team I was left feeling extremely positive by the response and concern shown by HHG in regards to their support of my argument along with their preparedness to pursue an outcome on my behalf.

I accept the fact that nobody really wins in these cases (mental health/ workplace) however the end result was what would be considered most favourable and far in excess of what would have been achieved had I not sought the advice from HHG.

I have no hesitation in recommending HHG to anyone caught up in the messy circumstances I found myself in at the time.

Great advice and five-star commitment to their client!!"


"Thank you for such great assistance with the transaction of Flying Domestics on behalf of Lorna Good. It has been such a pleasure to work with the HHG Legal Group and I look forward to working with you in the future."


"Simon Creek and his team were at all times empathic, professional and confident.  My matter needed to be addressed within a pressing time frame, and their availability at short notice and contact after hours was much appreciated.  It caused me considerable stress, but having such a thoroughly reliable and competent team to call on helped me to feel in control. Although I hope not to need their services again in future, I would be confident in doing so!"


"A good outcome is what we can expect.  A great outcome is a sign of a company which does the very best for their clients. A very big thank you to Daniel Morris for showing empathy towards my small and much needed legal action.

To HHG Legal Group, thank you for a great outcome.  I would recommend your company to anyone seeking legal services."


"Your support this morning was amazingly kind, not to mention your totally reassuring competence, knowledge and wisdom that you used on my behalf.  It was extremely reassuring to have your knowledgeable support, and I particularly appreciated your real and obvious kindness to me. It means so much at a very difficult time. I'm so grateful to you."

Family Law Client

"Janene was very professional and we established a good rapport quickly. The subject of death and wills can be quite confronting to deal with, however, Janene's approach was soft and accommodating."


"A big thank you to HHG for their professional service, continued support, and wide range of legal knowledge. Our clients have given us nothing but kind words regarding HHG Legal Group and so we have no hesitation in referring and recommending Simon Creek and HHG Legal Group for their outstanding services and legal expertise."


"Simon is a friendly and practical legal advisor. I have received great feedback from the clients I have referred to him and his team at HHG Legal Group."


"Over the last few years, I have been impressed by Simon’s legal ability, management skills, entrepreneurial spirit, personal integrity and people skills. He appears to be that rare breed of lawyer – both knowledgeable and commercial."


"Our family has been a client of HHG Legal Group over many years.  Business has included drawing up of wills for three generations and preparing of probate for my father in law. I would have no hesitation in recommending HHG Legal Group to anyone requiring such services."


"You should be congratulated for the manner in which your staff address clients and we found our dealings with your company, once again a very pleasant experience and we would like to truly thank you for your efforts."

Steve and Jane

"HHG Legal were absolutely fantastic. Extremely responsive and brought calm to our chaotic family situation through their knowledge and caring attitude. Extremely professional from our very first contact with them and they expertly guided our family though the required legal process over almost a 12 month period."


"Fantastic team! They really care about their client. Tim Colcutt is a 'go that extra mile' guy who gives his client his all. I can't recommend HHG and Tim enough."


"I had a fantastic lawyer in Matthew Lilly. He helped me out a great deal with good, sound advice in a friendly, professional manner. First class, thanks Matthew"


"Marine Plant Systems has been working with HHG Legal Group for a few years now and they continually provide first-class service. Their professional advice has been invaluable to our company."


"We were kept up to date at all times. Pricing was always updated over the time period so we remained "in budget". Personal access to someone whenever I had questions. All in all a great experience without too much fuss."


"Good service you can count on."


"HHG Legal Group has provided outstanding support as I have taken the journey of buying a business, their professionalism is beyond reproach. Their assistance throughout the Due Diligence process has been invaluable, I would fully recommend them."


"Very friendly and efficient service - what a pleasure working with Matthew."


"I highly recommend Daniel from HHG Lawyer in Mandurah. When dealing with a complicated legal property matter recently I was extremely impressed by Daniel's honesty and integrity and the legal advice I received. I am very happy with the service from HHG Legal."


Preferred Office location:

Please select your nearest office location so we can show you the most relevant information.