COVID-19 Update – 15 April

 JobKeeper Update

The Bill introducing the JobKeeper payment passed through all stages of Parliament on 8 April 2020. Find further information in relation to this and how the new legislation impacts your business here.

The Fair Work Commission 

The Fair Work Commission has found gaps in current laws meaning that some employees do not have a legal entitlement to self-isolate for two weeks if their employers do not grant permission. The workplace tribunal has announced plans to give unpaid “pandemic leave” and more annual leave at half pay to millions of workers.

The Commission has proposed changing 103 of the 122 industrial awards (Awards directly cover about 20 per cent of all workers, with many more drawing their pay and conditions from them). The proposal includes two weeks of unpaid pandemic leave accessible to all workers, whether full-time, part-time or casual. Only people required to isolate by the government or on medical advice would be able to access it. The Commission has also proposed allowing businesses to offer their workers twice their annual leave at half the regular rate of pay.

The Australian Council of Trade Unions is assessing the Commission’s proposal. Unions and business groups have been invited to give feedback on the proposed changes, with a hearing scheduled for 15 April and a final decision after that.

Advice Concerning the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Act 2020 

Interim legislative amendments have been assented to by NSW Parliament which may affect consumers you support, who may be concerned about forthcoming inquiries and hearings.  The changes mean that:

  • An assessable person, or any other person, may for the purposes of a mental health inquiry and with the approval of the Tribunal, appear by way of telephone.
  • The Tribunal may adjourn a mental health inquiry for up to 28 days.
  • The Tribunal may extend the period of a community treatment order that is in force by a period of up to 3 months, even if that results in the order being for more than 12 months.
  • These functions may be exercised only if the Tribunal considers that it is necessary to do so because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The changes have effect for 6 months but can be extended to 12 months.

A Practice Direction has been issued which applies to hearings listed from 30 March 2020. This also affects Forensic Hearings.

NSW Health Information for Funded NGOs 

The following resources are now available from the NSW Health website –

*Find MHCC’s regularly updated list of COVID-19 resources here*