A casual employee was removed from JobKeeper by his employer after he refused to work more than his regular hours. The employee was casually employed at a resort bottle shop and typically worked a single weekly shift of 9.5 hours on Saturdays. When the employer required him to work extra shifts, he refused. The employee was a full-time university student who lived two hours travel away and said logistically he could not work any other days.

The employer claimed it could require him to work up to 20 hours per week and withdrew him from JobKeeper after he refused to work extra hours. The employee continued to work his Saturday shift without the JobKeeper payment for two months. When the employee lodged a dispute claim with the Fair Work Commission, the employer threatened to stop claiming JobKeeper for the whole bottle shop staff as a result. The employer also claimed that full-time students could be excluded from JobKeeper, which is incorrect.

The employer had to make the JobKeeper payments upfront each fortnight to its employees and wait ten days to receive the payments from the Tax office. They claimed this was causing hardship for the business which had 11 employees on JobKeeper. The employee missed out on $3,395 for the two months his employer removed him. While this casual employee enjoys a windfall by receiving JobKeeper payments, the employer also receives a subsidy it otherwise would not get.

The Fair Work Commission lacked the power to make an enforceable decision on the matter because the dispute did not come under the provisions of the Fair Work Act. However, it recommended that the employer reinstate JobKeeper payments to the employee. It also commented that employees under JobKeeper are not obliged to work extra shifts and students are eligible for JobKeeper. The Fair Work Commission asserted that the employer received “free” funding monthly from the Tax Office to pay its employees on JobKeeper. Therefore the threat to remove all employees from JobKeeper was “ridiculous”.

The casual employee may have grounds for a general protections claim against the employer because none of the other employees were removed from JobKeeper and refusing to work extra hours is not a reasonable reason for removing him.

If you require advice regarding casual employees or employees on JobKeeper payments contact ProcessWorx on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au

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