JobKeeper sparks mayhem among Aussie workers
JobKeeper is pitting employer against employee and driving a wedge between colleagues as lack of clarity pushes businesses to opt out of the scheme and the one-size-fits-all payment creates inequality within teams.
Employsure managing director Edward Mallett said JobKeeper was "not as simple as it seems on the face of it".
Some employers were choosing not to apply despite likely being eligible, creating tension with workers who could only receive the allowance if both they and their employer signed up.
"For an already-shutdown business with employees sitting at home - for example, a gym - JobKeeper asks (a business owner) to pay $1500 (per fortnight per eligible employee), where previously they weren't obligated to pay anything," Mr Mallett said.
"They are worried they are going to be left in the middle, paying out the money and not getting money back from the government."
Mr Mallett said this anxiety was the result of the Australian Taxation Office being unable to confirm a business' eligibility for the government reimbursement until after they had already paid their staff then submitted their claim.
"I am seeing employers who might otherwise be eligible say, 'I don't want to get involved in this, there is too much unknown'," he said.
Mr Mallett said JobKeeper was also "creating cultural problems" in businesses that were still operating but had signed up for the scheme as revenue had taken a hit.
Some full-time workers were suddenly earning the same as colleagues with much lighter workloads.
"Someone can be working full time earning about $1500 a fortnight, and someone can be working part time earning $200 a fortnight and suddenly both are earning the same amount," he said.
Similarly, he said an employee on unpaid parental leave with zero earning expectation would suddenly be bumped up to $1500 a fortnight and someone on WorkCover and doing only limited shifts would earn JobKeeper on top of their WorkCover payment.
Mr Mallett said employees had to individually agree to be part of the scheme, even if their employer had signed up, but in doing so they signed away some of their rights.
This meant workers earning well-above $1500 a fortnight faced a difficult decision.
"The employer can make unilateral decisions they did not previously have the power to do," he said.
"They can stand you down and say 'go sit at home - you were on $3000 a fortnight, now you are on $1500'."
Although an employee in this situation could refuse to sign up to JobKeeper and continue working at the higher pay, he said they then risked being made redundant.
Stillwell Management Consultants head of organisational psychology consulting Alexandra Rosser urged business leaders to focus on transparent communication with staff during the pandemic.
She said they should highlight to staff that current pay levels were less about performance than about the preservation of the business and economy.
"There are a lot of people out there working the same hours as before, if not more, and they are the ones who might feel a sense of unfairness," she said.
"Finding ways to express gratitude for that through means that go beyond pay is going to be crucial (for employers) at this time."
Originally published as JobKeeper sparks mayhem among Aussie workers