The withdrawal of JobKeeper’s support at the end of March will be concerning to many businesses who have relied on it to stay operational during the pandemic. Those who are relying on JobKeeper will need to make decisions about how they run their business and manage staff after payments cease.

JobKeeper payments are officially ending on the 28th of March 2021. The end of the JobKeeper could see businesses letting go of staff to cut back costs. If during JobKeeper, businesses haven’t returned to pre-COVID-19 operations, they may need to make permanent changes when payments cease.

Making changes

There are ways to cut business costs without redundancies. These include reducing office or workspace and operating in a smaller area or negotiating your lease. Reducing spending on travel, food and beverage, training and events can be another option. As well as, temporarily cutting subscriptions or services you don’t need or renegotiating suppliers’ contracts.

If there are few other options businesses may need to consider reducing their staffing costs. To keep more existing staff on board without forced redundancies business can offer retraining and redeployment opportunities or stand down employees for a short period. Other options include asking employees to take leave, work reduced hours or take leave at half pay. However, you must negotiate these changes with employees, they can’t be forced into changed working arrangements. The Fair Work Act ensures employers can’t do anything that changes employees working arrangements without their agreement, other than stand-downs or redundancies.

How to communicate changes with employees

The end of JobKeeper payments means uncertainty and anxiety for employees as well as business owners. Most employees should be aware, the end of the scheme may result in changes within the business, however, you still need to communicate with them about the businesses future.

Honesty and kindness are very important when delivering difficult news to employees. As an employer, you don’t want to lose the trust of your employees because of a misstep during a stressful period, but you also shouldn’t downplay the situation.

If redundancies are unavoidable

It is never easy to make redundancies. When approaching an employee with redundancy it’s important to accept it will be a difficult and possibly emotional conversation. You also need to ensure you follow the correct procedure in accordance with the Fair Work Act.

Redundancies need to be valid. Valid reasons include the role being no longer viable or no longer required. Decisions shouldn’t be based on seniority or tenure but on the operational needs of the business.

Be careful to avoid labelling redundancy as underperformance. Clearly communicate to employees that the business no longer requires the role to be performed.  Resist the urge to be vague when communicating with employees, be brief and be prepared for it to be emotional.

If an employee becomes too emotional, offer to rearrange the meeting so they can come back and discuss things when they have had time to think. If employees are upset during a meeting, you are still responsible for them, so be compassionate and ensure they get home safely.

As business owners or manager it is equally important to look after yourself during stressful and uncertain times, bought about by these changes.

ProcessWorx is experienced in managing redundancies if you need support to ensure you follow the Fair Work procedure we can help. ProcessWorx offers consultancy services for employee issues and can tailor our support to your business. Click here to find out about our consulting services.

Get in contact to find out how we can help you manage the HR in your business or farm on (08) 9316 9896 or enquiries@processworx.com.au

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Written by Danielle McNamee

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