JobKeeper is part of the furniture for many businesses, well understood and much appreciated, however, as we come into the silly season, and its attendant public holidays, ACAPMA has been asked about the impact of Public Holidays either worked or not worked, on JobKeeper Payments – the answer is simple, but the implications, not just on staff morale, but on actual staffing levels on Public Holidays must be clearly understood to avoid disaster.
If you are not familiar with the everyday operation of JobKeeper, it is important to review that information, check out; https://acapmag.com.au/2020/09/jobkeeper-stage-1-closing-and-stage-2-commencing-practical-q-a/ for more information…but very breifly;
When the business and employee are eligible and participating in JobKeeper;
and the employee works, then they get paid what they are entitled to as per the Award or the Agreement for all hours that they work
if the employee earns less than the applicable Minimum Wage Condition, then the employee also receives a JobKeeper Top Up amount to ensure that they receive at least the Minimum Wage Condition before tax per fortnight
So, if the employee is eligible for the Minimum Wage Condition of $1,200 before tax per fortnight, and does work that amounts to $990.84 for that fortnight (eg 46 hours @ $21.54 per hour), then the employee will also receive a JobKeeper Top Up amount of $209.16 before tax.
This is true even if the employee is subject to a JobKeeper Enabling Standdown Direction.
So the question becomes, what if the employee has a day off…what if they are sick, what do they get paid?
In the example above they would still receive the $1,200 before tax that is their Minimum Wage Condition, all that would change is how much is coming from the work and how much is coming from the Top Up. For example; 40h work @ $21.54 = $861.60 for work and a Top Up of $338.40 to bring the employee up to the applicable Minimum Wage Condition of $1,200 before tax.
So what about Public Holidays?
If the employee is typically working (not subject to a JobKeeper Enabling Standdown) AND the employee usually works on the day that the Public Holiday falls then the question of how to treat the Public Holiday becomes one of two options, depending on whether the employee is working on the Public Holiday or not;
- Not Working the Public Holiday
- they decide to take the public holiday, then the ordinary hours that the employee would ordinary have worked should be recorded as time worked
- So if the employee usually works 6h on a Monday and the Monday is a public holiday and the employee chooses not to work, then the pay for the fortnight should show the 6h as time worked.
- Working the Public Holiday
- they decide to work on the Public Holiday, then the employee needs to be paid and have recorded all hours worked, at the appropriate penalty rate
- This may result in the employee not receiving a Top Up Payment for that period. This is due to the nature of the Minimum Wage Condition
- For example, if the employee in our example works additional hours in a normal week then they would make more than the Minimum Wage Condition, and no Top Up payment would be needed. For example 56h @ $21.54 = $1,206.24. As this amount is over the Minimum Wage Condition there is no need for a Top Up. The same situation occurs when a Public Holiday is worked. Due to the penalty rates the employees total earnings before tax are likely to be higher and the need for a Top Up Payment is likely to be less or removed entirely.
This last element is worth undertanding clearly. An employee may, due to the Top Up nature of JobKeeper, work one week with no Public Holiday and the next week with a Public Holiday and take home the same amount of money.
This has two implications, particularly when staff are receiving a Top Up amount. Staff are likely to be confused and potentially annoyed at this situation if it is not clear to them prior to undertaking the work, and, it is likley to result in increased staffing pressures over the Public Holiday period.
Here to Help
The JobKeeper Program has been a massive and evolving emergency response, and it is not uncommon for businesses and staff to have questions. ACAPMA Members are reminded that they can reach out to ACAPMAs Employment Department with any questions via email@example.com