Changing duties or work location under the JobKeeper scheme

Published 1 May 2020 | Updated 25 September 2020

The information on this page is for qualifying employers and their employees.

Qualifying employers are employers that qualify for the JobKeeper scheme and receive payments for their eligible employees.

Legacy employers no longer receive JobKeeper payments but may be able to use some of the JobKeeper provisions. Learn what applies at JobKeeper enabling directions and agreements for legacy employers.

Temporary provisions have been added to the Fair Work Act (JobKeeper provisions) as part of the JobKeeper scheme. Employers may be able to use these provisions if they are a:

  • qualifying employer: employers who qualify for the JobKeeper scheme and are receiving JobKeeper payments for their employees 
  • legacy employer: employers who previously qualified for the JobKeeper scheme but no longer qualify, or choose not to participate, from 28 September 2020.

Legacy employers and their employees can get information on the provisions and what applies on our JobKeeper enabling directions and agreements for legacy employers page.

The JobKeeper provisions allow qualifying employers, in certain circumstances, to:

  • give a direction to change an employee’s usual duties
  • give a direction to change an employee’s location of work.
  • They also allow qualifying employers to agree with an employee to change their days and times of work. Find out more at Changing days or times of work under the JobKeeper scheme.

    A qualifying employer can give an eligible employee a JobKeeper enabling direction or make an agreement under the JobKeeper provisions from 9 April 2020 (when the JobKeeper provisions started). The last day the provisions will apply is 28 March 2021.

    Who can use the JobKeeper provisions

    The information in this section is for qualifying employers and their eligible employees.

    Legacy employers and their employees can check what applies at JobKeeper enabling directions and agreements for legacy employers.

    For a qualifying employer to give a direction for an employee to change duties or work location under the JobKeeper provisions, they need to:

    • qualify for and enrol in the JobKeeper scheme
    • be entitled to JobKeeper payments for the employee to whom the direction or agreement applies
    • be a national system employer in the Fair Work system.

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    Direction to change usual duties

    The information in this section is for qualifying employers and their eligible employees.

    Legacy employers and their employees can check what applies at JobKeeper enabling directions and agreements for legacy employers.

    Under the JobKeeper provisions, a qualifying employer can give an eligible employee a direction to perform different duties. 

    To do this, the qualifying employer needs to make sure that:

    • the duties are within the employee’s skill and competency
    • the duties are safe (including considering the nature and spread of coronavirus)
    • the employee has any required licences or qualifications to perform the duties
    • the duties are reasonably within the scope of the employer’s business operations
    • the direction is reasonable.

    Employers needs to follow notice and consultation requirements when giving a direction. See How to give a direction to change usual duties for details.

    The direction doesn’t apply to the employee unless the employer reasonably believes that the direction is necessary to continue the employment of one or more employees. To determine whether it’s necessary, it doesn’t matter that the employer could have given a similar direction to another employee.

    The qualifying employer needs to make sure that the direction is reasonable. This includes taking into account all of the circumstances, including:

    • any caring responsibilities that the employee has
    • if the direction applies to a category of employees, making sure it doesn’t have an unfair effect on some employees in that category compared to others.

    If the direction is unreasonable, it doesn’t apply to an employee.

    The qualifying employer can only direct an employee to do work that applies to the operation of the business they are employed at. For example, an employer can’t direct an employee to do odd jobs unrelated to the operation of the business.

    An employee’s base pay rate can’t be reduced while a direction to change usual duties is in place. If the temporary new duties attract a higher base pay rate, the employee needs to be paid the higher pay rate. For example, under any applicable award or agreement.

    If an employer gives an employee a JobKeeper enabling direction, the employee has to comply.

    Example: Direction to change usual duties – new duties within employee’s skill and competency

    Oliver is employed full-time as a leading hand in a warehouse and logistics business. The business is affected by coronavirus. It’s enrolled in the JobKeeper scheme, is receiving JobKeeper payments for Oliver and is a qualifying employer.

    Given the downturn in business, Oliver’s employer no longer needs Oliver to perform his leading hand duties. Instead, Oliver is directed to carry out forklift driving duties temporarily. Oliver’s employer can make this JobKeeper enabling direction because:

    • the duties are within Oliver’s skill and competency
    • Oliver has experience driving trucks and holds the appropriate HR licences
    • the driving duties are safe and can be performed with appropriate social distancing measures in place
    • the driving duties are within the scope of the warehouse’s business.

    While this JobKeeper enabling direction is in place, Oliver’s other employment conditions (such as hours and days of work) haven’t changed. Oliver already gets paid more than a forklift driver, so his hourly pay rate doesn’t change.

    How to give a direction to change usual duties

    Qualifying employers need to:

    1. Notify the employee in writing at least 3 days before giving the JobKeeper enabling direction. This applies unless the employee genuinely agrees to a shorter time.
    2. Consult with the employee (or their representative) about the direction and keep a written record of the consultation.
    3. Give the employee the direction in writing.

    Qualifying employers can use our:

    Direction to change usual duties - changed duties are within business operations

    Cassie works part-time at a corner store called Arendelle Eats. She usually works Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 3pm to 6pm.

    Because of coronavirus, Arendelle Eats isn’t getting any customers during the time Cassie usually works.

    Arendelle Eats has qualified for the JobKeeper scheme and gets JobKeeper payments for Cassie.

    On Monday, Arendelle, the owner of Arendelle Eats, explains to Cassie the impact that coronavirus has had on the business. They explain that instead of serving customers, Cassie will temporarily need to clean all the shelves and products that the store sells.

    Arendelle confirms that Cassie will be provided with the protective gear and cleaning equipment to do her new duties safely. Arendelle gives Cassie a letter explaining her intention to give her a JobKeeper enabling direction to do different duties. Arendelle keeps a written record of their discussion and, on Friday, gives Cassie a written direction explaining her new duties.

    Arendelle can make this direction under the JobKeeper change of duties provisions, because:

    • the new duties are within Cassie’s skill and competency, and are safe
    • the new duties relate to the business operations of the corner store
    • Arendelle reasonably believes that the direction is necessary to continue Cassie’s employment.

    Direction to change usual duties – the changed duties aren’t within business operations

    Janine owns a retail fashion business and has one part-time employee, Mary.

    Janine’s business has experienced a substantial reduction in turnover because of coronavirus. It qualifies for the JobKeeper scheme and Janine is entitled to JobKeeper payments for Mary.

    Janine tells Mary that the store will be closing for the next 6 weeks and that she can’t usefully employ Mary to work her usual duties. Janine gives Mary a written direction that for the next six weeks, instead of working at the shop, Mary will work her usual shifts at Janine’s house helping to look after Janine’s two children as well as cleaning and cooking for Janine’s family.

    This isn’t a valid direction under the JobKeeper change of duties provisions because the new duties don’t relate to the operation of Janine’s retail business.

    Janine’s direction has no effect and Mary doesn’t have to perform work at her house.

    When a direction ends

    A direction applies until the first of the following:

    • the employer stops being a qualifying employer
    • the employee subject who is stood down by the direction stops being an eligible employee
    • it is withdrawn, revoked or replaced (including by  the Fair Work Commission), or
    • 29 March 2021.

    When a direction ends, an employee’s terms and conditions of employment revert back to what they were before the direction was in place.

    Directions to change usual duties without using JobKeeper enabling directions

    In some circumstances, an employer may be able change an employee’s duties under an applicable award, enterprise agreement or employment contract. For example, recent changes to some awards give extra flexibility for employers to make temporary directions.

    More information:

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    Directions to change location of work

    The information in this section is for qualifying employers and their eligible employees.

    Legacy employers and their employees can check what applies at JobKeeper enabling directions and agreements for legacy employers.

    Under the JobKeeper provisions, a qualifying employer can give an eligible employee a JobKeeper enabling direction to perform duties somewhere different from the employee's normal workplace. This can include the employee's home. 

    Qualifying employers need to make sure that:

    • the new location is suitable for the employee’s duties
    • the employee isn’t required to travel an unreasonable distance in all the circumstances (including considering the nature and spread of coronavirus)
    • it’s safe for the employee to perform their duties at the new location (including considering the nature and spread of coronavirus)
    • the employee performing their duties at the new location is reasonably within the scope of the employer’s business operations
    • the direction is reasonable.

    Employers needs to follow notice and consultation requirements when giving a direction. See How to give a direction to change location of work for details.

    The direction won’t apply to the employee unless the employer reasonably believes that the direction about location of work is necessary to continue the employment of one or more employees. To determine whether it’s necessary, it doesn’t matter that the employer could have given a similar direction to another employee.

     

    A qualifying employer needs to make sure that the direction is reasonable. This includes taking into account all of the employee’s circumstances, including:

    • any caring responsibilities the employee has
    • if the direction applies to a category of employees, making sure it doesn’t have an unfair effect on some employees in that category compared to others.

    If a direction is unreasonable, it doesn’t apply to an employee.

    If a qualifying employer gives an employee a JobKeeper enabling direction, the employee has to comply with it.

    How to give a direction to change location of work

    Qualifying employers need to:

    1. Notify the employee in writing at least 3 days before giving the JobKeeper enabling direction. This applies unless the employee genuinely agrees to a shorter time.
    2. Consult with the employee (or their representative) about the direction and keep a written record of the consultation.
    3. Give the employee the direction in writing.

    Qualifying employers can use our:

    Example: Directions to change location of work must fulfil a range of criteria

    Sarah runs an online mobile phone accessory business and also has stores at several different shopping centres. Raha is employed to work at one shopping centre store to do sales and provide product information and support to customers.

    Sarah’s business has suffered a significant downturn due to coronavirus and is entitled to JobKeeper payments for Raha. It is a qualifying employer under JobKeeper.

    Sarah’s sales report shows that sales at the same shopping centre store have declined because of the impacts of coronavirus. Sales in her online store, which is run from a nearby office, have increased.

    In order to continue Raha’s employment, Sarah wants to give Raha a JobKeeper enabling direction to perform her usual duties for the online store.

    Sarah considers all of the factors required to give a direction and decides that:

    • Raha can suitably perform his duties at the online store office
    • working at the office doesn’t require unreasonable travel
    • the office is a safe location (including with regard to coronavirus).

    Sarah can give a direction. Sarah gives Raha written notice of her intention to direct him to work at the online store office, consults with Raha about the proposed direction and makes a written record of the consultation.

    3 days after consulting with Raha, Sarah gives him a written direction to work at the online store office for the next 4 weeks.

    When a direction ends

    A direction applies until the first of the following:

    • the employer stops being a qualifying employer
    • the employee subject who is stood down by the direction stops being an eligible employee
    • it is withdrawn, revoked or replaced (including by the Fair Work Commission), or
    • 29 March 2021.

    When a direction ends, an employee’s terms and conditions of employment revert back to what they were before the direction was in place.

    Directions to change work location without using JobKeeper enabling directions

    An employer doesn’t have to give a JobKeeper enabling direction to have an employee do work at a different location. They can direct an employee to work from a different location without issuing a JobKeeper enabling direction if the direction is lawful and reasonable. This applies so long as there is nothing inconsistent in an applicable award, agreement or employment contract.

    Employees can also agree with their employer to work somewhere else than the usual workplace. Learn more:

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    More information

    Hours of work

    Flexibility in the workplace

    Legacy employers

    Legacy employers and their employees can find out more about the provisions that apply to them at JobKeeper enabling directions and agreements for legacy employers.

    More information:

    Pay rates

    Use our Pay and Conditions Tool to calculate base pay rates, allowances and penalty rates (including overtime) under an award.

    Enforcement and dealing with disputes

    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.

    Our Resolving workplace issues during coronavirus page has information and resources to help you resolve workplace disputes. It also has information about our enforcement role under the JobKeeper scheme and who can help with:

    • questions about eligibility for the JobKeeper scheme
    • disputes about directions or requests under the JobKeeper scheme
    • disputes related to requirements for legacy employers, including certificates.

    JobKeeper payments

    For more information for employers and employees on how to enrol for the JobKeeper payment scheme, who is eligible and it how it works, go to the ATO website – JobKeeper section external-icon.png.

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