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Australian businesses wrestle with one of the most complicated workplace relations systems in the world. The rules around wages — known as awards — are notoriously complex. Many countries have one minimum wage. In Australia, we effectively have hundreds. You need to be sure that you’re paying your staff the right amount. Don’t risk trusting the wrong advice. It’s too easy to get wages wrong.

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Employsure founder and MD Ed Mallett on Sunrise.

Ed discussed all things JobKeeper, as well as offering guidance on the current Victorian lockdown and how it affects business owners.

Interested in hearing more? Check out our weekly live streams, every Friday at midday on Facebook.

Transcript


Kochie: As we've just heard business closures, job losses and widespread uncertainty are the grim reality in Victoria. We've been sent plenty of questions about the latest restrictions. To answer them, we're joined by our expert, Ernst & Young chief economist, Jo Mazdas, and Employsure managing director, Ed Mallet. Good morning do you both. Let's get straight into them. Our first questions are out of Victoria. Allison says I work at a clothes shop that will have to close under the new rules, do I need to go on jobs, say kill or JobKeeper? Ed, what does Alison need to do?
Ed: All right, Kochie. So a couple of things there, first of all, Alison should know if she is JobKeeper eligible already and that her employer has applied or is applying. They would have been communicating that to her. If they haven't just check with them but otherwise go and look at job seeker.
Natalie: Okay. We've got a question from business owner Aarav. He says, "I've just been told I must close my business because of the new restrictions in Victoria. Where do I go for financial help?" Jo, where should Aarav go? Well, where should he start?
Jo: Sure. So look, as an economist, we would focus on the government stimulus measures that we've seen from both the federal government and the state government, as well as we've seen Australian banks also join that challenge and provide some support for Australian businesses and households.
Kochie: Georgina has a question about childcare workers. She says, "S work in a childcare center in Melbourne I'm worried it's going to shut down and I'm not eligible for JobKeeper, What should I do?" Ed?
Ed: So for Georgina, I'd say first we'll say worrying's not thinking. Georgina, just pause, have a chat with your employer. It may be that if they are going to stay open for essential workers, it may be that you've got some hours in there that you're going to need to do. If they are going to close, it may be that they become JobKeeper eligible in September, this extension of JobKeeper and watching this space for childcare carefully. But do have a chat with your employer first of all. If unfortunately, you're gonna be stood down and you're not gonna have any hours, it may be that you need to go onto JobSeeker.
Natalie: Right. Another one on JobKeeper sent in from Jessie Crossley who runs a catering company in Melbourne. Take a listen.
Jessie: I've had two staff members resigne due to personal reasons on JobKeeper and I've had to reemploy two more staff members outside of JobKeeper out of my own pocket. Is there any way I can get assistance from the government?
Natalie: Ed, what options does Jessie have?
Ed: So a tough one, first of all, for catering companies at the moment, but also we've seen this a number of times with staff members that leave and then if you need to reemploy people you don't get JobKeeper for the new staff members unfortunately. So she's gonna need to look outside of JobKeeper and those employment subsidies maybe the sort things that Jo might be able to help us with more about Victorian subsidies that are being provided to businesses depending on their troubles.
Kochie: Yeah. Victoria has a $10,000 grant to small businesses, so take a look at that. Danny Lamb runs Lamby's Cafe, he wants to know about the economic fallout in Victoria. Have a look.
Danny: How badly are these restrictions going to affect the Victorian economy? And also how long will it take for it to recover?
Kochie: Jo, what do you think?
Jo: So we know that when we implement these types of restrictions it has an immediate impact on economic activity, and we're seeing that in Victoria, we can see it in job losses already in the data. The estimate is that when we locked down, the cost of Victoria is over half a billion dollars per week in economic activity. So incredibly challenging time for that state.
Natalie: Yeah, and Victoria is a quarter of the national economy, isn't it? Anne says, "I don't have any sick leave, but have been told to isolate for two weeks. Am I eligible for the federal government's new pandemic leave payment?" Ed, what are options are there for people who don't have any sick leave left or have been in casual jobs so they don't actually get any?
Ed: This is a really tricky one for Anne, and it's a very fast-moving situation at the moment. So first things first, if you are required to isolate you might not necessarily be entitled to use your sick leave even if you have it. In Anne's case, if she doesn't have it, there is the opportunity in Victoria at the moment, first of all, get a state subsidy of up to $1,500 for pandemic leave. And then last night, what we saw was Scott Morrison jumped in and said the federal government will be essentially running in parallel with that. He said that's gonna happen from tomorrow so we're watching this space to see exactly how those two things are gonna work together. But if Anne doesn't have the opportunity to get sick leave because she's a casual or it's otherwise it's, run out of sick leave it may be that she's entitled to that support.
Kochie: Okay. Jo, Pablo is worried about government debt. He says, "How can the government possibly push what he says is the fraud that there is hope for an economic recovery?" Wait, we shouldn't get too negative about this. If there's any economy in the world that is set up the best to cope with this, it's this one, Jo, isn't it? We're in pretty good shape.
Jo: That's exactly right. And I know that times are very confronting for many, including Pablo, but we are relatively in a good state. Our government debt is very low and our government is having no trouble raising debt. And raising debt is important because that's how the government will access money to continue to push measures into the economy to support Australian businesses and Australian households.
Kochie: Yup. In fact, it is when we put up government bonds to raise money to get loans, the government is inundated with people wanting to lend us money and the interest rate the government is paying on that debt is 0.8 of a percent, less than 1%. So we're in really good shape let's not get too doom and gloomy about it.

Ed Mallett On Sunrise, August 2020
6:19

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Transcript

Man: I'm sure I don't have to tell you that running a small business can be challenging. And the last thing you need are problems from your staff, the very people you hired to make your day easier. But, unfortunately, workplace problems can arise every single day. And as a business owner, you need to be able to navigate some of the most complicated workplace laws and wage systems in the world all while doing your day job, running a successful business. So, who can you turn to for help?
Woman: Good morning. How are you today?
Man: Good morning. I'm very well. How are you?
Ask the experts at Employsure because our day job is dealing with complex workplace relations and awards so you have the confidence and control to get on with your day job. Employsure, one of Australia's leading employment relations experts, offers peace of mind to business owners. Our experts take the time to get to know you and your business and the unique situations that you face. So, you can be sure the advice we offer isn't just a run-of-the-mill robot reply.
Congratulations Tina, and welcome to Employsure.
Woman: Thank you so much for coming today.
Man: But rather completely tailored to the challenges your business faces. What's more, we stand by our advice and we can help you should you ever find yourself faced with a claim. Now, you can't get surer than that.

Employsure | Confidence In Running Your Business
1:53

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Employsure's consultants are available 24/7. No matter what your fair work issue, we're here to help. Peace of mind is just a phone call away ...

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Why is the Employer Helpline Free?

Because we're confident you’ll find the Employsure experience so beneficial, we’re happy to offer this initial consultation free of charge.

This way, if you encounter more complex, ongoing issues with the Fair Work Act, you’ll already know that Employsure are the experts you can trust.

Besides, employees have unions, industry associations, the Fair Work Commission.

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FAQs

What is the role of Fair Work Australia?

Fair Work Australia is the former name of the Fair Work Commission. The Fair Work Commission is Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal. The Fair Work Commission is the independent body responsible for:

  • setting wage rates;
  • creating and changing modern awards;
  • approving enterprise agreements; and
  • resolving disputes
What is the purpose of the National Employment Standards?

The National Employment Standards form part of a safety net that serves to provide fair, relevant and enforceable minimum terms and conditions of employment.

What are modern awards?

Modern Awards are legal documents that outline minimum pay rates and conditions of employment for employers and employees in a particular industry or occupation.

What is the Fair Work Commission?

The Fair Work Commission is Australia’s national workplace relations tribunal. The Fair Work Commission is an independent body, responsible for:

  • setting minimum wage rates;
  • creating and changing modern awards;
  • approving enterprise agreements; and
  • resolving disputes including unfair dismissal claims.
Who set up the Fair Work Commission?

The Fair Work Commission was established by the federal Labor government in 2009.

What is the role of Fair Work Ombudsman?

The Fair Work Ombudsman is an agency of the Australian Government that serves to provide advice and information in relation to the federal workplace relations system. The Fair Work Ombudsman has the power to enforce workplace laws. They may also seek penalties for breaches of workplace laws. The Office of the Fair Work Ombudsman is currently held by Sandra Parker.

What is the difference between the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Fair Work Commission?

The Fair Work Commission is an independent body, responsible for:

  • setting minimum wage rates;
  • creating and changing modern awards;
  • approving enterprise agreements; and
  • resolving disputes including unfair dismissal claims.

This is distinct from the Fair Work Ombudsman, which is responsible for:

  • investigates workplace complaints
  • conducting audits to ensure compliance
  • enforcing the Fair Work Act 2009.
What does the Fair Work Act do?

The Fair Work Act 2009 is the legislation that regulates the federal workplace relations system. The Fair Work Act 2009 sets out the terms and conditions of employment and sets out the rights and responsibilities of employees, employers and employee organisations in relation to that employment.

Why was the Fair Work Act 2009 introduced?

The Fair Work Act 2009 was introduced to govern Australia's workplace relations system and legislate for the entitlements available to Australian workers. The legislation aims to provide a safety net of minimum entitlements and enable flexible working arrangements and fairness at work.

What does the Fair Work Act 2009 cover?

The Fair Work Act 2009 covers ‘national system’ employees and employees. Employment that is not covered under the national industrial relations system is regulated by the relevant state legislation. Whether an employer is a national system employer depends on the location of the employment relationship (state or territory) and, in some cases, the legal status and business of the employer. The Fair Work Act 2009 covers the rights and responsibilities of employees, employers and employees’ organisations in relation to employment.

What are employer responsibilities under the Fair Work Act 2009?

All Australian employers are required to meet their obligations contained within the Fair Work Act 2009. The responsibilities are wide ranging and include, but are not limited, to:

  • abiding by the minimum entitlements contained within the National Employment Standards and any applicable modern award;
  • paying the appropriate wage;
  • keeping appropriate records (as prescribed within the Fair Work Regulations); and
  • not taking (or proposing to take) action against employees for prohibited reasons.
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