Resolving workplace issues during coronavirus

Published 20 May 2020

We help employers and employees understand and follow Australian workplace laws. We do this by:

  • providing information and education
  • providing tools, templates and guides
  • helping you resolve workplace issues.

On this page:

What you can do to work through and resolve workplace issues

We encourage employers and employees to work together to find workable solutions that suit their individual workplaces and staff.

From time to time, issues and conflicts can arise. Resolving workplace issues on your own can be quick and easy with the right tools. In our experience, most workplace issues can be resolved at the workplace.

Our guides to difficult conversations will help you find the information you need, have an effective conversation in the workplace and fix any underpayments.

Even if an employee has left employment with the employer, we encourage you to try to work out issues between yourselves before making a formal request to us for help.

Download our guides to difficult conversations:

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Questions about eligibility for the JobKeeper scheme

We can give you general information about the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, and how it interacts with your workplace obligations and entitlements under the Fair Work Act, a relevant award or an agreement.

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) administers the JobKeeper scheme and will take action to ensure the integrity of the program. Visit the ATO website external-icon.png for information about:

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Disputes about directions or requests under the JobKeeper scheme

The Fair Work Commission (the Commission) has the power to hear disputes and make orders about the new JobKeeper provisions under the Fair Work Act. This includes directions or requests about:

  • reducing or changing hours, times or days of work
  • changing the place of work
  • changing duties
  • taking annual leave
  • taking annual leave at half pay
  • secondary employment, training or professional development.

Employees, employers and employee and employer organisations can apply to the Commission to deal with a dispute. For more information, see Fair Work Commission - JobKeeper disputes external-icon.png.

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Enforcement of the JobKeeper scheme: what we can help with

The Fair Work Ombudsman has an enforcement role under the JobKeeper scheme. We can enforce a number of the JobKeeper provisions if they relate to:

  • employers who have qualified for the JobKeeper scheme
  • employees who are enrolled in the JobKeeper scheme.

Things we can help with include:

  • ensuring minimum wages and conditions under the Fair Work Act are met
  • misuse of JobKeeper enabling directions under the new Fair Work Act JobKeeper provisions by employers.

We can also enforce general protections relating to the new provisions, such as the right to refuse or exercise a workplace right. For more information about workplace rights, including how to get help, go to Protections at work.

Examples of when we can help include if you believe an employer has:

  • failed to pay an amount that is at least equal to the JobKeeper payment to an eligible employee
  • failed to pay an eligible employee for work they performed or leave they have taken
  • asked an eligible employee to give all or part of a payment made to them under the JobKeeper scheme back to their employer
  • contravened an order made by the Commission (for example an order made in response to a dispute about JobKeeper enabling directions).

Find out what to do if you have a dispute about:

How to ask for our help

To ask for our help, please contact us.

What happens when you ask for our help

We’ll ask you for information about the workplace issues you’re trying to resolve. We may refer you to another government agency or department where appropriate.

If your workplace issue relates to minimum pay and conditions, including pay while under the JobKeeper scheme, we'll ask you questions about your situation so we can:

  • understand and assess your situation
  • give you accurate advice
  • determine the best way to help you resolve the issue.

In our experience, discussing issues directly in the workplace is the most effective way to promote harmonious workplaces.

Referrals to other government agencies or departments

If it’s more appropriate for another government agency or department, such as the ATO or the Commission, to help you with your particular issue, we’ll give you information about how to ask for their help.

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