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FWC eases navigation of its JobKeeper disputes rulebook

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
26 May 2020 1 minute readShare
FWC

The Fair Work Commission has launched an interactive online version of its JobKeeper disputes benchbook, after revealing that unfair dismissal claims have increased by 70 per cent during the coronavirus crisis.

The JobKeeper disputes benchbook sets out a list of disputes that can be addressed to the commission and was prepared to assist parties who are lodging or responding to JobKeeper dispute applications under the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).  

While a hard copy of the benchbook was released earlier this month, the FWC has now published a more interactive version to ease navigation.

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The updated version also provides a how-to guide to using the benchbook.

The Fair Work Act 2009 has been amended to help employers who qualify for the JobKeeper payment to deal with the economic impact of the coronavirus.

 

Under the new provisions, employers eligible for JobKeeper can give an employee temporary stand-down directions, and alter the employees’ usual duties and times of work, but under specific circumstances.

Speaking before the Senate’s dedicated COVID-19 inquiry, Bernadette O’Neill, general manager of the Fair Work Commission (FWC), said that while dismissal claims have been “reasonably constant” over a number of years, recent numbers show an unprecedented spike of 70 per cent.

“I think its fair to say that it is clearly COVID-19,” Ms ONeill said. 

According to FWC’s benchbook, disputes coming before the commission may concern whether a JobKeeper enabling stand-down is because of changes to business attributable to the pandemic; whether an employee cannot be usefully employed for the employee’s normal days or hours; safety implications of directions; suitability of alternative workplaces; the reasonableness of employee refusals to work different days or times; and whether a direction to perform other duties is necessary.

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But, while both employees and employers are able to apply to the commission, the commission is unable to deal with disputes arising from JobKeeper entitlements and eligibility. 

“The commission cannot assist with disputes about decisions of the Commissioner of Taxation as to whether an employer is entitled to receive JobKeeper payments,” the FWC said.

“Objections to such decisions are dealt with in the manner set out in Part IVC of the Taxation Administration Act 1953.

“This includes review by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and appeal to the Federal Court of Australia.”

The FWC also confirmed it cannot assist where an employer refuses to apply for JobKeeper payments and disputes about underpayments.

The FWC said applications to deal with a dispute about the operation of Part 6-4C of the Fair Work Act “can be made by lodging a completed and signed Form F13A”.

It confirmed that there is no fee incurred for making an application to the commission to deal with a JobKeeper dispute.

The online JobKeeper disputes benchbook is now available here.

FWC eases navigation of its JobKeeper disputes rulebook
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Maja Garaca Djurdjevic
Maja Garaca Djurdjevic

Maja Garaca Djurdjevic is the editor of My Business. 

Maja has a decade-long career in journalism across finance, business and politics. Now a well-versed reporter in the SME and accounting arena, prior to joining Momentum Media, Maja reported for several established news outlets in Southeast Europe, scrutinising key processes in post-conflict societies and enabling citizens to influence decision-making.

You can email Maja on [email protected] 

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